"I'm down to two pairs now, so I might be like Mr. Magorium and, when those shoes are done, just retire. That's the end of my career." - Matt Bonner
One of my favorite ways to pass time during the offseason is to track the rumored improvements hyped by players around the league. Before this year's "Is Kevin Durant adding muscle to post up more?" came the intrigue of "Did LeBron add a ‘skyhook' to his game?" Before both of these was, of course, "Has Kobe mastered the Dream Shake?" These storylines provide a unique level of anticipation for fans eagerly awaiting a new NBA season.
But what do you do when you're a player at the top of your game? What do you do when you can dunk like Shaquille O'Neal, cross somebody over like Joe Johnson, and shoot fire like Stephen Curry? When you've reached the zenith of athletic ability in the most competitive basketball league on the planet, what's left for you to add?
A shoe deal, of course.
When the Spurs walked away from last season a stunned and demoralized group, there was talk around the team of individual improvements. Trades were made. The offense was updated. Tim Duncan lost weight (again). Boris Diaw will finally, seriously, for real this time, become an aggressive offensive threat. Kawhi Leonard will have plays called for him and will even smile when you mention it to him. But our friend Coach B, Matt Bonner? How, exactly, does one improve on perfection?
With New Balance officially bowing out of the basketball shoe business, it appeared that their most famous celebrity endorser, currently down to just two pairs of his favorite 8026s, would be left looking for new signature kicks. Saddened by what appeared to be an inevitable conclusion to one of the NBA's greatest shoe/player partnerships, Matt Bonner refused to quit, turning to social media to help solve his shoe situation. And like the #LetBonnerShoot campaign last season, it was a Twitter campaign that helped him out.
It started, quietly, with an interview with popular sneaker site Nice Kicks, based out of Austin. Here's "The Ultimate King of Kicks on Court" himself, explaining his dilemma:
Even through the jokes - and that Kobe Tevas line was solid - you can see the sadness in his eyes. And while it's typical of Matt Bonner that he approached his New Balance sponsorship like he was setting up a Health Savings Account, it's clear that his strategy of stockpiling shoes from his deal five years ago won't carry him any further.
Soon after the interview was posted, it was announced that Bonner would also be briefly seizing control of the Nice Kicks Twitter account to publicize his desire for a shoe deal. After some quick tips from his brother Luke, Matt began his quest, sending out his first ever tweet in classic Coach B style.
Biongiorno twitterverse. This is Matt Bonner aka The Red Rocket aka The Red Mamba aka The Sandwich Hunter on twitter for the first time— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) October 21, 2013
Throughout his time running the Nice Kicks account, Matt peppered in some of his characteristic wit:
Me of course... Assuming we're playing cribbage RT @Danny_Mirzai Who would win in a 1v1, you vs Kobe, Red vs Black Mamba?— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) October 21, 2013
seedless watermelon is one of the top 10 inventions of our generation— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) October 21, 2013
And he even provided some interesting news:
Coach B is MIA but rumor has it there's a few clips floating around that might surface @Jabbles23 will Coach B be making any more videos?— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) October 21, 2013
Pretty fantastic stuff. The very idea of a Matt Bonner/Stephen Jackson rap record turns my brain to mush. But alas, Matt Bonner means business, and he didn't waste any time, making his intentions known very quickly:
As in the last 4 years, if nobody else will sign me then yes :-( RT @tsharp94 Would you keep wearing NB w/out a contract— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) October 21, 2013
And incredibly, it seemed to work. Not even an hour later, the folks at New Balance responded to his passionate plea:
Matt, as expected, was emotional:
.@newbalance Now as the sole NB wearing NBA player for the last 4 years... I have tears in my eyes. I never thought this day would come.— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) October 21, 2013
But he was also cautious:
.@newbalance I'm assuming by sending a shipment of NB product you are saying you want to sponsor me officially?Like with an actual contract?— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) October 21, 2013
And after no immediate reply, perhaps a bit desperate:
So while his original intent to find a shoe deal remains frustratingly unresolved, it would appear that the immediate problem of his dwindling New Balance supply has been solved. Perhaps not the victory he wanted, but it's a victory nonetheless. Having more New Balance pairs will come in handy in what will likely be a wild NBA season. After all, experience has shown that a blowout could be lurking around any defensive rotation. But for now, Coach B has already set his sights on a new personal goal:
No... it's still on my bucket list though RT @czvrvvi have you ever done an alley-oop?— Nice Kicks (@nicekicks) October 21, 2013
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