From the Archives: Spurs All Star Stories from a Torontonian (Part 2)
Originally Posted April 23, 2016
Thursday February 12, 2016
We have multiple forms of public transit in Toronto: subways, buses and streetcars. The streetcars are the most iconic and are affectionately referred to as the "red rocket". As most of you know, this nickname was also applied to our favourite (Canadian spelling eh!) red head, Matt Bonner, when he started his career with the Raptorsin 2004. Matt would often take public transit to the game, hence the "Red Rocket" nickname. True to form, Matt took public transit to his own fund raising dinner in Toronto during All-Star Weekend.
"Dinner with Matt Bonner and Friends" was put on by Matt and his Rock on Foundationwith the proceeds benefiting one of Matt's favourite Canadian charities, the Stop Food Community Centre. The dinner was an amazing time with good food and great conversation. Some of the highlight's included:
Dinner at the Drake. The dinner was held at the Drake 150, a restaurant in downtown Toronto (the restaurant is a follow up to a boutique hotelin the west end of Toronto that was launched several years earlier). The Drake 150 ascetic is a mix of artsy and eclectic (there is an old fashioned photo both - tested out by a number of the dinner guests, including Matt) with a touch of modern. The food ranges from good to excellent. Well worth a visit if you are in town (would make for a good pre-dinner stop before heading to the ACC to watch a Raptors game).
A perfect pair. Dinner was a four course meal and the wine pairings for each course were by none other than Greg Popovich. Coach Pop was not in attendance, but going through a meal knowing that it had his input was an experience in and of itself. BTW, all the wine pairings were awesome - the Howling Moon Zinfandel was particularly delicious.
Appropriate Attire. Leading up to the dinner I was somewhat perplexed by the dress code - trying to choose between a 2014 NBA Finals Matt Bonner jersey and, um, plaid.
Friends & Family. The extended Bonner family was in attendance, Matt's brother (Luke) and Sister (Becky) along with Matt's wife Nadia and member's of her family. Everyone was so down to earth and easy to talk to. True to Spursform, we really felt like part of the family for the evening.The Ice Man. George Gervin joined Matt for dinner. As has recently been documented on this website, the Iceman is one of the greats on and off the court. He was as smooth at dinner as he was on the court and was very pleasant to be around. He was in town for various NBA Cares events and to judge the slam dunk contest (more on this in part 4).
Celebrity Performance.Win Butler from Arcade Firewas also in attendance. Although I'm not necessarily an Arcade Fire fan, it was interesting to meet Win in person. His height certainly came in handy in leading Team Drake over Kevin Hart's team in the Celebrity game. I like to think that the dinner was partly responsible for the MVP performance.Going once. The festivities included a live auction with Luke Bonner as the auctioneer. All proceeds went to The Stop. Auction items, included signed Russell Westbrookand Kyle Lowry Jerseys and a really cool signed shot chart by Kirk Goldsberry (foreshadowinganyone?). Although...
If the shoe fits. The highlight of the auction was the sneakers. Signed Kawhi Leonard Air Jordan XX9 "Frozen Moment" PE (issued for the Christmas game); signed LaMarcus Aldridgegame worn Jordan Flight Speed Super.Fly 4 PE and signed game used Boban Marjanovic Air Max Audacity. For the record Kawhi is size 14, LaMarcus is size 17 and Bobam is size 20 or 21.5 (my memory is failing me). We did our part and gave the Kawhi and LaMarcus Jordans a good home!
Exceeding Expectations. You know how most professional sports "fan events" work - your pumped for the opportunity to to meet a player or otherwise interact with your favourite team, then the event totally disappoints. The players are disinterested, you get two seconds to interact with players, all the players are in a VIP area, etc. Dinner with Matt Bonner and friends was not that type of event. Heading into dinner, I was trying to temper my expectations to guard against being disappointed. Dinner with Matt Bonner and Friends exceeded expectations and then some. If I had to describe the experience in one word I would say "authentic". So I will close this post with a big shout out to Matt, Luke and the Rock on Foundation for an amazing night and wish the Rock on Foundation much success going forward!
Up next, part 3: ping pong, social media and cup cakes (not necessarily at the same time)...