Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Bonner = Braveheart

As you might've heard us mention before, Herohill has season tickets for the Toronto Raptors. As a service to those of you who can't get out to see Canada's only currently active pro sports team, we've tried to give you some first hand Raptors highlights from time to time. After watching him score 15 points against the Warriors on Sunday, I thought it was high time we covered the phenomenon that is Matt Bonner.

Now don't get me wrong, I think most Toronto fans are taking the Bonner thing too far. He gets the biggest response front he fans right now, and they collectively lose it when he scores. He's only a rookie and is not exactly playing on the 87 Lakers. He might not be playing as much on a better team, so let's not send him to Springfield yet. But he's kind of goofy, he's from New Hampshire, is white with flaming red hair, and he runs kind of awkward, so it's not surprising people in Toronto have taken to him. People were probably cheering for him as a joke at first, but the guy has become a solid contributor and now I think most people actually like him.

I'm in that camp myself, I like Bonner. It would be very hard not too. First of all, he genuinely seems like a nice guy. He aced all his courses at the University of Florida, maintaining a 4.0 and being named an Academic All American. He majored in business and unlike many student athletes, he has an interest in his chosen major. So much so that when a member of the player's union came to talk to the Raptors this season about the impending labour showdown, Bonner was the only guy asking him questions. Very detailed questions in fact. His teammates were so impressed that they named him their player representative. Quite a bit of respect for a rookie who spent last year playing in Italy.

Speaking of Italy, it's from there that we get this story. During his first game he got a gash on his head and bled all over himself. So they took him to the locker room, shaved part of his head, stiched him up, and he finished the game wearing a hair net. Yes, a hair net, I didn't make that up. For some reason the Italian media nicknamed him Braveheart. Simply a classic story. And there's more. When he returned from Italy he got ready for training camp by running up the mountain at White Mountain ski resort, taking the ski lift down and then running back up. Thinking about him running up a mountain in his wacky running style with his arms bobbing in front of him makes me laugh every time.

Bonner walks to the ACC for games, saying that the cold weather reminds him of home and he enjoys seeing the fans reactions when he's walking with them after the game. C'maaaan, what NBA player do you know that would do that? In fact Sam Mitchell even stopped once and gave him a lift down to the ACC. Bonner's takedown of Kevin Garnett and subsequent ejection last month only got the crowd more hyped on him. He actually pointed up to the crowd and slapped five with all the fans on the way out, infuriating Garnett. If they had put Domi on his jersey after that skirmish, the Leafs fans in the crowd would have probably fainted in euphoria. Bonner is just happy to be in the NBA, and if that doesn't make you feel good you need to check your pulse you cold bastard.

I can understand why his hometown newspaper put him on their Best of 2004 list. He finished second only to the Red Sox. Pretty impressive being the second biggest story in a New England paper after the Red Sox winning the World Series. Seeing as how the NHL may never play again, perhaps Matt Bonner will be bigger in Toronto than the Maple Leafs. Bet you didn't see that coming.

Posted at 10:10 PM by naedoo :: 0 comments

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