NBA Life: Bonner will be fulfilling a childhood dream competing in the NBA 3-Point Contest
The Red Rocket is going to Houston. Concord native Matt Bonner will be competing in the 2013 Foot Locker Three-Point Contest during NBA All-Star weekend, fulfilling a childhood dream that was inspired by watching Larry Bird 25 years ago.
Bonner, in his ninth NBA season, received an invite following a month-long campaign on his behalf throughout social media. It seemed like everyone wanted the Spurs forward in the contest, including teammate Tony Parker, who likes Bonner's chances of winning the Saturday event (TNT, 8:30 p.m.).
"I think Matt Bonner would have a great chance to win it," Parker said. "He's a machine. You should see him at practice. It's unbelievable."
Bonner had kept relatively quiet regarding the movement to "#LetBonnerShoot." He doesn't have a Facebook page or Twitter account. But the humbled "Red Mamba" - a nickname recently coined by Kobe Bryant - has given plenty of thought about the upcoming weekend in Houston.
"Since I grew up in New England worshiping Larry Bird, I fantasize of someday winning on the final 'Money Ball'. I'd then pay homage to my childhood hero by walking off the court with my index finger held high in the air - short shorts and all," Bonner wrote at slamonline.com last week.
"My favorite part of the weekend is meeting all the legends. These are players I grew up idolizing on the court: Chris Mullin, Kevin McHale, Charles Barkley, Danny Ainge, Julius Erving, Brian Scalabrine, etc. I always get nervous and never know what to say. It's like every time Kevin Arnold tried to talk to Winnie Cooper in Season 1 of The Wonder Years ... Overall, All-Star Weekend is much bigger than just the competitions and game that warrant its existence. It's a celebration of the sport of basketball. It's a place where NBA past and present come together."
Sunday News: Congratulations for receiving the invitation. Are you surprised at how big the social media campaign became?
Matt Bonner: I'm really touched by everyone who has helped me and supported me along the way with "Let Bonner Shoot." Everybody back in New Hampshire helped out a lot. You could say that the whole social media movement got me over the hump and finally got the league's attention. Some of my earliest memories are watching Larry Bird win the 3-point contest. I'd love to be able to pay tribute to him and try to bring the trophy home to New Hampshire.
SN: Are you going to wear short shorts like Larry Bird?
MB: As flattering as it would be for me to wear those short shorts, I found out all wardrobe changes have to be approved by the NBA. I don't know how that will go over.
SN: What kind of preparation will you have before the event?
MB: I think preparation-wise, it's going to be tough. The problem is we're on the road until Valentine's Day. I do have one day at home to try and get that timing down. We also have a very important Players Association meeting in Houston before the event. It's going to be hectic, but I know I'm going to enjoy and I'll be over-the-top excited.
SN: Do you have a favorite 3-point spot on the court?
MB: I'd say for the competition, the top might be my best spot. At the corner and the wing, you have to recalibrate. The biggest thing for me will be trying to relax and stay calm. It's tough because you can't take your time at the rack. It's odd because you have to shoot and immediately reach for the next ball. If you miss, you have to make the immediate adjustment.
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.