Not a hero, just a sub

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:30 PM ET

Matt Bonner was on his way to Little Italy for dinner last night when his cab passed a Mr. Sub.

"I might stop by," Bonner said, "and see if I could get a couple of bottles of sub sauce to take home."

Yes, it's the same old sub- and subway-loving Bonner who returns to the Air Canada Centre today with his San Antonio Spurs for the first time since the Raptors traded the fan favourite and Eric Williams for Rasho Nesterovic this summer.

Mind you, there is one slight change. Bonner has not not left the bench in two games with the deep and powerful San Antonio Spurs. There is a legitimate chance Raptors fans won't be able to give Bonner the same warm reception they delivered to ex-Raptor Charlie Villanueva when his Milwaukee Bucks came to town Friday night.

"The most important thing is to win," said Bonner, whose Spurs are 1-1, like the Raptors. "I'm going to do whatever I can to help us achieve that. I'm just working as hard as I can in practice and I'm going to learn as much as I can from Robert Horry. "There are 82 games. I'm pretty sure at some point, I'm going to be called on."

The trade looks like a good one for Toronto. The deteriorating Williams hasn't even dressed for the Spurs, while the sharp-shooting Bonner would have been in a push for minutes on a far-better Toronto team this season. Both players have desirable expiring contracts.

Nesterovic, meanwhile, has given the Raptors something they haven't had for years -- a centre who knows what he is doing. Rafael Araujo and Loren Woods didn't quite fit the bill.

"Our thing is we can put Rasho out there and he can guard his position," Raptors coach Sam Mitchell said after Nesterovic notched 10 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots. "We don't have to leave shooters and scorers open. That helps us because now it does two things. It's taking them out of what they really want to do and it's keeping the ball out of a guy like Michael Redd's hands."

But unless Nesterovic dyes his hair bright red and starts taking the Red Rocket to the ACC, it's doubtful he'll be as popular as Bonner in Toronto any time soon.

Bonner, who had to purchase a car -- a modest Pontiac Grand Prix -- to get around San Antonio, won't be taking public transportation to the ACC today.

"I was going to take the subway to the game, but they're making me take the team bus," he joked.

And what if the Spurs don't want to re-sign him?

"I could always get my scorekeeping job back in the Concord (New Hampshire) men's league," Bonner said.

But chances are he'll be able to afford as many subs as he'd like for a few more years in some NBA city. In the Spurs media guide, it says Bonner claims to "eat at Subway more than Jarrod (the chain's commercial character)."

But Canadian-based Mr. Sub holds a special place in Bonner's heart -- and his old teammates know it.

"I'll probably give him a couple coupons or something," Chris Bosh said, "because I know he misses it."


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