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Editorial: Life lessons from the Red Mamba

We remember watching San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner shoot foul shots non-stop for an hour without complaint while his father worked out with weights. At the time he was, if memory serves, 5. Monitor columnist Ray Duckler remembers standing in crowd of people in tuxedos and ball gowns in Toronto’s Air Canada Centre when the former Concord High star played for the Raptors. The crowd took the elevators up to a concert; he and Bonner took one down to a practice gym where Bonner, on a night off for the team, spent hours working on his shot. It was that work ethic, plus the “LetBonnerShoot” Twitter campaign led by his brother Luke, that put the 6-10 redhead in Saturday night’s three-point contest during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. Bonner came in second.

What people who watched the shoot-out on TV instead of at Concord’s Red River Theatres didn’t see were the scores of pizzas Bonner bought to thank the hometown fans who turned out to watch him compete.

The man called the Red Rocket for his habit of taking a train of the same name to games in Toronto is a class act.

Bonner was recently dubbed the Red Mamba by the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, presumably for his ability to strike without warning from beyond the arc. He’s a man who achieved his dream and made millions yet never forgot his hometown. He co-hosts a weekly radio show about life in the NBA and masquerades as Coach B in a hilarious exercise in self-mockery and fun. Matt and Luke organize fund-raising concerts for the Concord Boys and Girls Club, where Matt started his basketball career, and each summer they run a basketball skills camp at Rundlett Middle School for boys and girls ages 8-16.

The brothers recently started Rock On, a foundation to foster youth athletic, artistic and scholastic initiatives. But the most valuable lesson they could teach kids would be how to emulate the work ethic that, in superhero-fashion, turned Matt Bonner into the Red Mamba.

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