Matt Bonner falls to Kyrie Irving in the 3-Point Contest Finals


TOYOTA CENTER — All-Star Weekend is full of a bunch of things that don’t matter all that much. Mainly, interviews that no one wants to give and competitions that no one wants to compete hard in. Maybe the only thing people will go all out in are the parties. The 3-Point Contest seemed a little different, though, just because of the effort that Matt Bonner and his brother Luke put in in order to get there.

I ran into Bonner outside the players’ hotel as I walked to the East and West All-Star media availability on Saturday morning. We exchanged pleasantries and I asked him if he was excited about the night, where he’d be participating in the 3-Point Shootout for the first time. It was only after a couple of of online campaigns to get him involved, one failed and another¬†successful, that he was selected to compete. His response about how he felt headed into the evening was simple, honest and everything you want to hear: “Man, you have no idea.”

The worst thing that could’ve happened to Bonner is to go out and choke.¬†If he won, he’ll be back next year. If he did well and lost in the finals, there’s a chance he could be invited in 2014 back as some sort of rematch. But if he sucks, that’s it. That’s his one shot.

Well, the Red Rocket/Mamba didn’t win, but he did represent himself well. Bonner fell to Cleveland Cavaliers all-everything point guard Kyrie Irving in the finals, when Irving scored 23 points to Bonner’s 20.

“When he finished with a 23 — in my practice rounds I could get 24 or 25, so I knew I had a chance,” Bonner said later. “20’s nothing to shrug off. It usually would win, but not tonight”

Bonner advanced to the first round, beating the Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Hornets’ Ryan Anderson, with a score of 19. In the finals, he watched as Irving nearly matched the record for points in a single round in the 3-Point Contest. On Bonner’s turn, he started out well but couldn’t match Irving’s production in the end.

“This is something I’ve wanted to participate in my entire career. I’m 32 years old and I finally got the nod,” he said. “You do everything you can to prepare for it, but when you’re shooting and you got Drake sitting right next to you and Nick Cannon from America’s Got Talent‘s right there and it makes you a little nervous.”

“I missed that money ball on the fourth rack and I knew it was a wrap after that,” Bonner said.

Now the hope is to come back next season, when the All-Star game returns to New Orleans. After losing in the finals and doing his part to publicize the competition, it shouldn’t be as much of an uphill battle to participate.

“I’m going to have to shoot really well all season and then maybe I can get picked again, we’ll see,” he said. “I’ll probably have to start another social media campaign, #LetBonnerShootAgain or something.”