The NBA Life with Matt Bonner: Three-Point Contest provided the opportunity of a lifetime
Shooting under the bright lights of NBA All-Star weekend - and in front of fans wearing "Red Mamba" T-shirts - Matt Bonner sank his first five shots and reached the finals of the Three-Point Contest at the Toyota Center in Houston. The Concord native scored 20 points, enough to win the contest in most years, but Cleveland's Kyrie Irving torched the nets with 23 points in the finals. A week ago Thursday, Bonner scored his 4,000th career point in a 116-90 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Bonner spoke with Jared Stillman of WKXL Radio directly after the contest in Houston:
Sunday News: Are you happy with your performance at All-Star weekend?
Matt Bonner: Yes. It was a great experience. I had a good showing but ran into a really hot shooter. Kyrie put up a monster round. Historically, 20 points is usually enough to win it in the finals. It just didn't happen for me.
SN: Does it hurt to lose in the finals?
MB: Absolutely. This is something I've always wanted to participate in for my entire career. At 32 years old, I finally got the nod. My heart is still beating out of my chest. You do everything you can to prepare for it, but when you're shooting and Drake's sitting right next to you, and Nick Cannon from America's Got Talent is right there interviewing you, it makes you a little nervous. I think I did a good job managing it and putting up solid scores. It's just that Kyrie was hot.
SN: What did you think when Kyrie kept making shots and you had to beat 23 points?
MB: In my practice rounds, I could get 24 or 25 (points), so I knew I had a chance. I missed that money ball on the fourth rack, and I knew it was a wrap after that. I knew that I had to be perfect on the last two racks. Twenty points is nothing to shrug off. It's disappointing, but maybe I can get back in it next year somehow.
SN: Tell us about the personal charity that you told the world during a TV interview that night.
MB: It's called the "Rock On Foundation." It's charity me and my brother started to encourage youth to rock on. A lot of school districts are cutting athletics, arts and music. We started a foundation to raise money to support arts and athletics in the community and give opportunities to pursue their dreams in those fields.
SN: What will you take away from this experience?
MB: I don't know. My mind is still racing, and my heart's still pounding. That was one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I've ever had, and to put up a 19 and a 20 under those circumstances, I'm shocked I didn't air-ball every shot ... Who knows if I'll ever be back here. It could be a once in a lifetime chance for me. It's been awesome. My whole family is here, and it was great to share it with them. I think in most years, I would've won.
SN: What were some of the cooler moments of you'll always remember?
MB: I rode up an elevator with Diddy. Bill Russell, Charles Barkley and Yao Ming were sitting 3 feet away from me while I was shooting in the corner. One of the best parts was hanging out with my brother during the dunk contest. We were standing with Kobe Bryant, Blake Griffin and all those guys. (Spurs teammate) DeJuan Blair was wearing a Red Mamba T-shirt, and a lot of stars said they wanted one, which I thought was funny.
Matt Bonner discusses The NBA Life each week with radio broadcaster Chris Ryan and New Hampshire Union Leader reporter Kevin Gray, and the interview appears weekly in the N.H. Sunday News.