San Antonio’s Bruce Bowen was fined $10K last month for kicking Seattle’s Ray Allen in the back. Tonight, the pair will meet again at the building formerly known as the SBC Center (I’m sentimental about phone companies, mergers be damned) and the San Antonio Express News’ Johnny Ludden summarizes the schism :

Bowen’s relationship with Allen began to deteriorate after Allen was traded to Seattle midway through the 2002-03 season. When the Sonics played the Spurs near the end of that season, Bowen was ejected after receiving a pair of technical fouls: the first for a hard foul on Allen; the second for nearly hitting Brent Barry, then with Seattle, in the head with an elbow.

In their next meeting the following season, Bowen and Allen received technicals for pushing each other. Afterward, Allen said Bowen “cheap-shots” him and plays “sissy basketball.”

Allen was the first player to publicly criticize Bowen, who thinks the comments helped trigger complaints from others. In their subsequent meetings, Bowen said Allen has told him he’s a “terrible” player.

The officials “hear from him that I’m doing all these dirty things to him,” Bowen said. “But what about when he hits me? I didn’t go say, ‘Hey, on the jump ball, he smacked me in the face.’

“There are a lot of people in the league who have lost a lot of respect for him. People are starting to see he’s not so clean.”

Allen was suspended for three games this season for fighting with Orlando guard Keyon Dooling. He also has had problems with Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.

Said Bowen: “Did anybody call Stu and politic and say we should fine Ray?”

Bowen appreciates his rivalry with Bryant not only because of Bryant’s competitiveness, but also because Bryant rarely complains or makes excuses. Even Vince Carter, who previously accused Bowen of stepping under him, has stopped complaining off and on the court.

“We all emulate Michael Jordan because he was the best we saw,” Bowen said. “You never heard him talk about the ‘Detroit (Jordan) Rules.’ Or how physical the Knicks played him. Or how John Starks maybe hit him on a shot.”

No, he had Phil Jackson to do that for him.