This is The Tribune Mailbag, a series in which athletes answer questions sent from our readers. Our past editions have featured athletes from all corners of the sports world, including Megan Rapinoe, Paul Bissonnette and even the Founding Publisher himself.
In this edition, Matt Bonner answers readers’ questions about his retirement plans, his obsessive preference for flannel, his love for sandwiches and more.
Do you think you could beat LeBron James in a game of one-on-one, provided LeBron had to wear sandals throughout the entire game? —Reddit user u/s-c-
That depends on what type of sandal Lebron is wearing. If you’re talking about Tevas, then LeBron would win. Unless we play at the Concord, New Hampshire, YMCA. I have a career shooting percentage of 91% in that gym.
If you could force all official NBA basketballs to be a new color, what color would it be and why? —Reddit user u/Helicase21
I’d make the basketballs plaid. I love plaid. I’d start out with a traditional black and red lumberjack pattern. From there, the league could change the colors for special occasions: black and orange for Halloween, red and pink for Valentine’s Day, red and green for Christmas, green and white for St. Patrick’s Day, brown and orange for Canadian Thanksgiving, etc.
Why did you wear your shorts so high? Comfort or fashion statement? —Aaron
What? I wore my shorts high? I seriously had no idea until just now. I don’t know how to answer that question.
This is Luca from Italy. First of all I wanted to say that I am a huge Spurs fan, so thanks for all the years you spent in San Antonio. You’ve been one of my favorite sportsmen of the last decade, in every sense.
Here comes the question: Knowing that you live in Texas and that you’re an indiehead, I’m guessing that you are a frequent SXSW-goer. Which is the act you have liked most, and which one are you looking forward to the most this year? Thanks so much! —Luca
A bonus of playing in San Antonio was that it’s only an hour from Austin, the live music capital of the world. My favorite SXSW act I’ve seen over the years was the late Sharon Jones and her band the Dap-Kings. Her energy on stage was contagious and man, oh man, could she sing! This coming year, I can’t wait for the next albums from both Arcade Fire and The War on Drugs.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Hello Matt, first of all, congratulations on your retirement. Thank you for all you did for the Spurs franchise! Now that you’re officially retired, do you have any hobbies that you’ll be focusing on? I hope you have a relaxing and happy retirement! —Alex
Between my responsibilities around the house, taking care of my kids, writing and coming up with content ideas, trying to stay in some semblance of decent physical shape, and my new job with the Spurs, I haven’t had too much free time. However, my wife got me one of those mini NES Classic systems for Christmas. It is preloaded with 30 games, and my plan is to beat them all.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when making sandwiches? —Jeff
Using too much sauce. I understand that certain sandwiches call for a lot of sauce … but generally speaking, too much sauce creates an taste imbalance within the overall sandwich. Also, it can be unnecessarily messy.
Hello Mr. Bonner, sir,
This is Luke Kornet, Vanderbilt student and men’s basketball player (but student first). I have taken pride in doing the Bonner Challenge daily since before our game vs. Florida my sophomore year. Who within the Spurs organization is the all-time Bonner Challenge record holder? —Luke
This is a bit of a controversial topic. In our league, you are only allowed to attempt the Bonner Challenge once per day, and it must be your very first set of shots of the day and in front of a credible witness to be valid. Every time you complete the Bonner Challenge, you get a point. We typically do three Bonner Challenge “seasons” throughout the year. Games 1–41 count as season 1. Games 42–82 as season 2. And the playoffs are the third season. In addition, there is an Intercontinental belt holder for whoever last completed the Bonner Challenge in a foreign country (for example, before playing the Raptors in Toronto, or before exhibition games in Mexico City or Europe). I have three Bonner Challenge championships and I am the current Intercontinental belt holder. Coach Chip Engelland claims he also has three championships … but it is currently under review by the Bonner Challenge Board of Directors.
How many flannel/corduroy outfit combos do you have? —Patrick
I just went into my closet and counted 19 flannel shirts and seven pairs of corduroys. So that would make 133 different stylish combinations.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images
Congrats on a successful career, Mamba! Are you planning on doing much traveling in your retirement? The Great White North would love to see you again. Also, just curious if you had any interest in traveling to Newfoundland? I had seen a report that your grandfather was from there, but wasn’t sure if that was true. —Rob
Yes, my maternal grandfather was originally from Bell Island, Newfoundland. I guess when the iron mines closed he moved to Boston and met my grandmother. Now that I am retired and have more free time, I can’t wait to visit Newfoundland. I know St. John’s is hosting the Brier this year (the Canadian men’s curling championships) and I’m a big fan of the Newfoundland band Great Big Sea!
What ways did you keep yourself in shape and healthy? —Terry
Staying in game shape for over six months in the White Mountains of New Hampshire at the age of 36 was quite a challenge. It took a lot of mental toughness and focus. I stayed motivated by telling myself that I could get a call from an NBA team any minute so I had to be ready. I lifted four days a week and did a lot of mobility and flexibility work. For conditioning, I basically alternated on playing the court, running in the mountains (until it started snowing), swimming in the pool and riding an Airdyne bike. I also mixed in some pickup basketball at some of the prep schools up there and even did a couple of those boot-camp-style classes with one of my childhood buddies. I think it’s important to try and keep conditioning low-impact as you get older to save your joints.
I was looking into buying your jersey but can’t find it anywhere. Where can I get it? —Ryan
I would suggest writing a letter to the NBA to see if it will make some available for sale? If enough people write in, maybe they’ll do it lol. But unfortunately, I think at this point you’ll have to make a homemade one.
Now that you’re retired, who will be the new Sandwich Ambassador of the NBA? —Terrance
I haven’t picked a successor as of yet. Whomever that person may be, he will require years of apprenticeship and tutelage so that I may properly impart my sandwich wisdom.