YOUR TYPICAL NBA
player gets his driver's license at 16, his first pro contract at 20 and--if
he's lucky enough to be drafted in the first round--a different car for each
day of the week. The Heat's Gary Payton, for example, has so many Bentleys he
once told The Miami Herald he couldn't remember how many he owned. "I've
got four or five of them," he said.
forward Matt Bonner, a spendthrift in a world of frequent excess, has put off
investing in a set of wheels. The car-less Bonner, 25, prefers to get around
Toronto by streetcars, the subway or his own size 16 feet. Fans and teammates
call the 6'10" Bonner "the Red Rocket"--the nickname of the city's
streetcar system. "I'd rather buy something that appreciates in value than
something that loses half of it when you drive it off the lot," says
Bonner, who majored in business at Florida.
the people has helped turn Bonner--who'll often stroll the one mile from his
home to the Air Canada Centre--into one of Toronto's most popular sports
figures. He truly does have the common touch. A Concord, N.H., native who's the
son of an elementary schoolteacher (his mother, Paula) and a mailman (his
father, David), Bonner spent the 2003-04 season playing for Sicilia, an Italian
club so near to bankruptcy that he didn't draw a paycheck for half the season.
Even though he signed a two-year deal with Toronto for $4 million last summer,
he still needed a talking-to from Raptors coach Sam Mitchell, who advised him
(it was pre-- NBA dress code) to bring his wardrobe up to league standards.
averages 7.1 points a game, lives in a furnished, one-bedroom apartment in
downtown Toronto and has used a portion of his earnings to move his parents
from a two-bedroom condo to a three-bedroom house. But he hasn't splurged
since--not even for a little extra protein. "Just the other day I was at
Subway and wanted to double the chicken in my sub," he recalls. "But it
was $2 more. I was like, What a rip-off!"