In 2011 Bleacher Report's Denise Charles wrote “Matt Bonner might be robbed of a 3-Pt Shootout Again”, offering a strong case for the Spurs' 6'10″ power forward to receive the prestigious honor of draining buckets from beyond the arc against five of the leagues' elite shooters. It's 2013 and Matt Bonner, despite a career percentage of 41.8 percent, has yet to be selected.
If Kevin Durant, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Love sporting a crutch and a cast want to compete for the 3-Pt title this year, the NBA will make it so. The events at the All-Star Weekend are primarily about putting on a show. If one or two of them opt to shoot, that leaves a small window for the league's actual elite shooters, as opposed to the guys who get paid top dollar to chuck it up on the reg. Those of us who obsess over stat lines know Ryan Anderson is shooting an impressive 38.9 percent while leading the league in attempts at 7.6. We know Steph Curry should compete with his 45.5 percent on 6.8 attempts, but that his backcourt partner Klay Thompson is hungry this year at 38.7 percent on 6.9 attempts. Wedged between the Warriors backcourt is Nicolas Batum in Portland shooting 35.8 percent on 7 attempts. New Yorkers will shout over everyone to put Steve Novak out there as a vote for the token white stiff with a silky J and they have a strong case with his 44.9 percent on 4.8 attempts. These guys are getting up shots, while maintaining an assassin's mark.
Matt Bonner though sees significantly less floor time than each of these players, even on blowout nights where they buddy around on the bench in the 4th quarter. In those golden moments though, those precious minutes of which he has little time to gather a rhythm for the game, he is shooting 49.2 percent on 1.7 shots. He's .8 percent off of making 50 percent of his shots. 50!
I wouldn't be telling you about Matt Bonner though, were it not for our Death Dunk columnist, The War On Drugs bassist, and mastermind behind Night Lands, David Hartley. After befriending Bonner through email, Hartley took on the task of campaigning for Bonner's sake. He launched a Change.org campaign with the hashtag of #LetBonnerShoot in order to put the democratic system behind this year's selections for the 3-Pt Shootout. If the NBA won't recognize Bonner's lethal shoot percentage, it's time we make them by having Win Butler of The Arcade Fire tweet about it.
On Sunday January 20 while on his way to meet with Matt Bonner on a day off in Philadelphia, I talked with Hartley regarding the campaign to get Bonner into the 3-Pt Shootout. Hartley was feeling good about his cause after Bonner dropped 17 on the Hawks, going 7-8 from the field and 3-3 from behind the arc in 23 minutes of court time.
How did the #LetBonnerShoot cause get going?
I actually reached out to Matt about it. From knowing him and talking to him a couple times before [we started the campaign], you can tell he really wants to be in that competition and it bums him out that he’s never been invited. So I said you know what man, I’m going to start a petition to get you in.
His brother [Luke Bonner], who’s been a to a few The War On Drugs shows, said he was actually planning on doing something like this. He wrote a letter to the NBA which was really heartfelt and sweet. It’s starting to get a little traction, starting to go viral. But, if he keeps hitting shots like he did last night, it’s fucking done. He’s in.
You think it’s a lock?
It’s actually kind of a long shot. I think they tend to favor guys who take more attempts per game. He’s the kind of guy that shoots such a high percentage, but he does it in 1.75 attempts per game, which is pretty low. They also tend to favor guys who are big names because it’s a televised event. Kevin Love. Paul Pierce.
With Love being injured that could favor Bonner. I was looking at the top shooters in the league last night and right now Ryan Anderson is shooting a fairly ridiculous percentage alongside the highest attempts in the league. They are billed as similar players in the league. You’ve also got Steve Novak making noise. It could come down to how many tall, set-shot shooting white guys they want out there.
Exactly. In the least it’s a nice gesture for a guy who’s a friend and sweet dude. I think he’s in the top 10 percentage ever from three point land and he’s never been invited. It’s kinda fucked up. He should get a shot.
I think he could win because the contest favors guys who shoot quick release and also guys who have more of a set shot as opposed to a high elevation jump shot. He shoots fast and efficiently. Where as a guy like Jordan, who never competed in the three-point contest, but who knows how he would have done because he jumps two-feet in the air every time he shot. Try to do that 30 times in a row and you get into fatigue and your shot changes.
He’s got that efficiency of motion.
I talked to his trainer and I asked when Matt shoots 100 shots in practice how many does he make. He said 95, at least. Mind blowing. He shoots 95% in practice. Obviously, it’s lower when you have Kevin Garnett rushing at you.
Yeah, but there’s no defense in the competition, no Garnett wingspan obstructing his view.
Just 10s of thousands of people watching you live and millions on TV.
Ultimately we need to get the ear of Stu Jackson, which his brother might have a lead on. Right now, I only know rock and roll dudes. I’m just like tweet it out. That’s the clout I have.
Is it your doing in capitalizing on The Arcade Fire’s nearly 350,000 Twitter followers for this campaign?
I know that The Arcade Fire know Matt from back in the day. The lead singer [Win Butler] of The Arcade Fire played in a celebrity basketball tournament with Matt. They were already acquainted. I don’t know if Luke reached out, but at some point they caught wind of it and threw their support into the ring.
One that really puzzled me was Eva Longoria tweeting about it. Isn’t she the divorced wife of Tony Parker?
Yes. She is.
Maybe she had eyes for Matty back in the day?
Yeah, I hope this whole movement doesn’t cause a rift in teammates.
Yeah, exactly. Matt’s open on the wing and Tony is not giving him the rock.
That 1.7 attempts a game drops to 1.2. Could be a gift or curse. I can’t imagine Win Butler of Arcade Fire in a celebrity basketball tournament.
He’s really good. I’ve watched the Arcade Fire on Youtube and I was really surprised. I was like, alright props. It made me like the band a little bit more actually. Any band guy who can hoop gets props.
So the campaign is on Change.org. Should a stipulation be added that Bonner plays horse or the three-point contest against Obama for his spot in the All-Star Weekend competition?
If we accomplish this through social media, what’s next? Get him in office? Have him go against Obama? Charity? I don’t know. Let Bonner heal the world.
Later in our talk…
I’m going to the game tomorrow. The Spurs are playing the Sixers and I think every time Matt gets the ball, all I’ll be yelling “SHOOTER”.
Will you make a sign? Bring the viral buzz to Philly?
Hmm. That’s a good idea. I’ll make a hashtag sign. Alright.
The San Antonio Spurs have seven road games remaining before the All-Star break. If you believe in making the world a redder place and think Matt Bonner should compete in the 2013 All-Star 3-Pt Challenge, bring a #LetBonnerShoot to the game and be heard. You can also Like the Let Bonner Shoot campaign on Facebook.