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Florida great Matt Bonner retires from NBA with “mildly humorous” video

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We’ll miss you, Red Mamba.

 
Matt Bonner

Former Florida forward Matt Bonner announced his retirement from the NBA after more than a decade in the league on Friday — but the way he did it, with a public access television-spoofing YouTube video that is equal parts sweet and self-deprecating, is so authentically Bonner that it hurts.

SB Nation’s Charlotte Wilder called the video “the most New England thing ever,” and I — son of a New Englander and grandson of a longtime resident of “the Hampshire” — would tend to agree. (Note, also, that Bonner a) still has his old Florida jersey and b) still fits his old Florida jersey.)

Bonner played at Florida from 1999 to 2003, featuring on Billy Donovan’s first Final Four team in his freshman season and leaving the school as a first-team All-SEC selection in his senior year and an honors graduate who was a two-time Academic All-American.

Bonner remains the 10th-leading scorer in Florida history, with his total of 1,570 points passed by only Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton in the years since. (Unofficially, Bonner is 11th, as he would be behind all-time leading Gators scorer Vernon Maxwell’s true scoring totals, if they did not live in an NCAA-mandated purgatory, rather than Florida’s record books.)

Bonner went undrafted in 2003, then spent a year playing professionally in Italy before breaking into the NBA with the Toronto Raptors. He played all 82 games for the Raptors as a rookie, still a team record, and spent two years in Canada before being traded to the San Antonio Spurs.

In San Antonio, Bonner became a key reserve on Gregg Popovich’s bench for nearly a decade. While he started 67 games in 2008-09, Bonner played primarily as a three-point shooter for the Spurs, making 39 percent or more of his threes in seven of nine seasons with the team. His 45.7 percent clip led the NBA in 2010-11.

His efforts were also a small but integral part of the Spurs’ NBA title campaigns in 2007 and 2013. Bonner played in 22 of the Spurs’ 23 postseason games in 2013.

Bonner’s notoriety beyond the court far outstripped his prowess on it, however. He acquired the nickname “Red Rocket” for his fiery hair and penchant for taking Toronto’s subway train, known as the Rocket, with the Raptors, then was infamously dubbed the “Red Mamba” by Kobe Bryant. Bonner and his brother, Luke, helped parlay that fame into a shoe deal with New Balance and an appearance in the Three-Point Shootout at the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, and he, reporters, and other media mined his droll New Hampshirite sense of humor and quirky-for-an-NBA player taste for content, most recently with his appearance on Tiny House Nation, which resulted in Bonner coming away with a house measuring 276 square feet that still accommodated his 6’10” frame.

Bonner has been beloved everywhere he’s gone, and will be hailed for his goodbye — which also included a thoughtful blog post in which he calls his video “mildly humorous,” nailing it — but, fortuitously for us all, he is only merely retiring from playing ball, not from speaking about it. Bonner is joining Fox Sports Southwest to do studio analysis, and has a shiny new Twitter account, too.

I’ll leave the last word to the Wikipedia vandal who said it best: