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NBA Life with Matt Bonner: Bonner remains positive despite lack of playing time
The annual Celtics-Spurs game at the TD Garden didn't include any highlights of Matt Bonner sinking 3-pointers or tussling with Kevin Garnett under the basket. Not this time. Bonner, a Concord native and veteran forward for the Spurs, never entered the game in Boston last week. The Spurs won, 112-100.
Sunday News: What was your excitement level entering the game?
Matt Bonner: I was excited as heck to get out there and play against the team and organization I've been a huge fan of my entire life until I made the NBA.
SN: Why aren't you getting more playing time lately?
MB: I got the stomach flu and was sick for three or four days. I missed two or three games during that stretch, and I think that caused me to fall out of the rotation. We have a lot of depth. That's happened to me multiple times in my career. It goes back to how you react when you face some adversity. I've been trying to work extra hard, stay in shape, be ready in case someone goes down or someone gets into foul trouble. I want to be ready for significant minutes when I have a chance to get back. I'll be ready to go.
SN: There is a lesson to be learned from how you're handling the lack of playing time. Not many players would be able to stay so positive in that situation.
MB: Whether you're in the game or not, you have to do everything you can to help the team. That might be cheering on your teammates or helping the younger guys with set plays coming out of a timeout and making sure they're in the right spot. Maybe it's picking up on something during the game and relaying messages to your players or coaches. Just stay involved.
SN: Are the Celtics considered a benchmark team for the Spurs?
MB: It's tough to tell. I'm going to give you an unhyped answer. It's an 82-game season, and we're still basically in the first 10 games of the year. It's still good for an early-season test.
SN: As you began to succeed in basketball as a young adult, was reaching the NBA a distant dream or something you felt was possible?
MB: Oh, wow, that's a deep question. It was a distant dream until it happened. I was never pegged as a sure-fire NBA player. I literally signed my first contract as a rookie the day before our first regular season game. This was after spending a year in Italy and after going to (NBA) summer league, preseason and training camp. It was also a non-guaranteed contract. I didn't know if I'd stick. Until I got through that rookie year and signed a decent deal the next year, I never knew if it would really come true.
SN: You stand alone as the only guy from New Hampshire to succeed in the NBA. (Jeff Cross of Portsmouth played 21 games for the Clippers in 1985-86.) Did you think about that in high school in college?
MB: I thought about it a lot. It wasn't my only motivational factor to work hard and make it, but it did play a part. I thought about the big picture a lot. I thought about how badly I wanted to make it for all the people of New Hampshire and everyone who supported me along the way.
SN: Can you talk about your special connection with New Hampshire and what it means to represent the state?
MB: It's always been important for me. New Hampshire has embraced me. I always look at athletes or celebrities who kind of get disconnected from where they are from. It's always been important for me to never let that happen. I want people to know that, hey, I was born and raised in New Hampshire. I went to Concord High and still go back there during the summer. I work out in the mountains. It's where all my friends and family are.
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.