Bruce Bowen looking for ESPN colleague Ryen Russillo, Kevin Hart in NBA All-Star Celebrity Game

ESPN’s Bruce Bowen
(Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images)

On Friday, ESPN will present the star-studded and always amusing Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at 7 p.m. ET from Houston, Texas.

Two ESPN commentators will be represented on the rosters — Ryen Russillo of ESPN Radio’s SVP & Russillo and ESPN NBA analyst Bruce Bowen, who is also host of the NBA Lockdown podcast.

Thursday, Front Row published Russillo’s forecast for his Celebrity Game debut. Today, we chat with Bowen — who was voted to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team eight of his nine seasons with the San Antonio Spurs — to learn a little more about his strategy and predictions for the Celebrity Game.

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First, let’s talk about your coach — [Oklahoma Thunder star] Russell Westbrook — and your own roster.
Russell is a tough guy. He’s going to do well with players that have “it.” Like Usain Bolt — he has “it.” Bruce Bowen has “it.” Tamika Catchings has “it.” You know, I mess with Russ all the time. I think he needs to work on his celebratory dances. Being from California, he doesn’t represent California well with celebratory dances. And you have to give it to [assistant coach] Queen [Latifah] – she got it. [Bowen sings . . .] The Queen means business.

What about Usain Bolt?
You know how Dwyane [Wade] throws that long pass to LeBron [James]? That’s what I want to do with Usain. It shouldn’t take him long to get it. He’s the fastest man in the world. I also want to do his signature points to the sky. That’s what I’m going to do my first basket. That’s for him.

What’s your defensive strategy against your opponents?
There’s no way that Kevin Hart is going to get the MVP. I will make it my duty to make sure I throw some old 2005 defense on him. I love Kevin and I’m looking forward to this more than anything else. Ryen Russillo better hope and pray he’s not on the floor when I am. I already circled his name. And he’s wearing No. 32? Does he know how many greats have worn that number? [ESPN NBA analyst and former Los Angles Lakers great] Magic [Johnson]? Come on, man. I’m going to foul him for Magic. That’s my love for Magic. Who does he think he is? R-squared.

I have a healthy amount of respect for [WNBA star] Maya Moore. Maya is good. Maya is real good. I’m going to have to be careful. I may not try to guard her. I may complain to others to guard her instead. I like Maya. But Kevin Hart has it coming. Ryen has it coming.

What makes this game so special?
I think the fact that you come amongst some celebrities who you look up to and you enjoy what they do. Take COMMON, for example. I met him a few times. We actually sat together during an airport delay in Houston. To see him make the transformation from music to acting is impressive. I really admire the transition with all the rap artists who act as well. The Queen takes it to a new level. It’s nice to be able to say I really appreciate your movies and your songs. I get enough of the NBA guys and WNBA folks. Arne Duncan. Terrence Jenkins. Ne-Yo, Trey Songz. They are hot right now. I love being able to talk to them about the intricacies of their business — they do something they love because they are exceptional at it.

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