ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — Spurs forward Matt Bonner is something of a born storyteller. Over the weekend in Miami, for instance, during Spurs media availability, I went over to Bonner because I wanted to ask him some questions about NBA Style. My tongue was fully implanted in cheek — Bonner, like most of the Spurs, generally dresses down; he wears New Balance on and off the court. But I also knew that Bonner has a great sense of humor, and I was hoping he would play along with my line of questioning and provide us with some fun, ironic content. How many flannel shirts does he own? Is it tough choosing between jeans and khakis? And on and on.
The only problem was that I wasn’t ever able to get Bonner to submit to my line of questioning, because he was pretty much surrounded by media for the entire session, as they listened to Bonner tell tales about the season he played in Italy before breaking into the NBA. I realized too late that I should have had my tape recorder running, as Bonner told a long, involved story about having his head cut open during a game in Italy. The team doctor stitched up the wound, and it wasn’t until a week later as he was having the stitches removed that Bonner realized the doctor who’d sewn shut his head was actually a dentist. Bonner also shared a gripping tale about contracting a nasty virus — he suspected salmonella — and having a makeshift IV used to nurse him back to health.
It was also fun to hear Bonner talk about one of my favorite facets of Miami: The sandwiches. If you were looking for the NBA.com staff during any of our down time, it was a good bet you would find us not on South Beach, but somewhere eating Cuban sandwiches.
As it were, Matt Bonner is something of a sandwich artist, and I do not mean that in the Subway way. As Bonner has traveled North America with the Spurs, he has faithfully chronicled his search for the “hoagie grail.”
When it comes to sandwiches, Matt Bonner means business. After all, this is a man who, after signing a long-term deal with the Spurs, pledged to splurge by ordering double meat on his sandwiches. And as he explained to the San Antonio Express News, while in Miami the last few days, South Florida’s Cuban sandwiches put a sparkle in his stomach:
“I ate so many Cuban sandwiches when I was at the University of Florida,” Bonner said. “There were this local spot called the Swamp and I use to eat one about once a week.”
Bonner said the simplicity of the pressed sandwich was what made it so good and so memorable.
“They are just delicious,” Bonner said. “That’s all you need to know. You don’t need to overcomplicate it.”
Speaking for my colleagues at NBA.com, we stand with you on this one, Matt.