The NBA All-Star Three-Point Shootout is a unique and prestigious event in which the top three-point shooters are chosen by the league.
Sometimes, however, the league seems to be blinded by the facts surrounding this contest because they seem to overlook those worthy enough to take the court.
Last year, San Antonio Spurs power forward Matt Bonner—a player that has always been strong at threes—did not get to partake in the event, for reasons unknown; in fact, Spurs fans believe he has always been snubbed of participation.
Last year’s winner, the Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce, had a three-point field goal percentage (3P%) of .414. Not too shabby, considering that the two other finalists, the Denver Nuggets' Chauncey Billups and Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry each had a 3P% of .418 and .437, respectively. Bonner’s 3P% was .390.
Yes, the finalists had a better three-point average than Bonner that year, but that doesn’t mean Bonner wasn’t among the best for shooting threes or that he shouldn’t have been given the same opportunity as the chosen contestants.
For one, Pierce averaged 34 minutes of court time per game that year, and Bonner only managed about 18 minutes per game—I’m not a mathematician, but if a player is on the court for twice the amount of time, then that player's stats are more likely to be better, or yes, even worse.
Likewise, in 2009, Daequan Cook of the then Miami Heat won the contest with a 3P% of .387. He also participated in last year’s contest, with a 3P% of .317.
Yes, a worse average than Bonner that year and the year before—surprisingly and interestingly enough, both players had averaged 24 minutes per game that year.
Why choose Cook over Bonner? That’s up to the league’s officials, who so keenly appoint contestants.
What really boggles the mind of Spurs and NBA fans alike is how New York Knick (who was a Spur at the time) Roger Mason competed in 2009, as well—when his 3P% was a mere .425.
Mason’s teammate, Bonner, held a 3P% at an impressive .496. Maybe Bonner has been given a chance to prove himself, but always turns it down—I doubt that’s the case, though.
Will history repeat itself, as it always seems to do in the sports world? If so, chances are Bonner will be robbed of another chance at doing what he does best—shooting threes with a hint of ease.
His three-point percentage is at a career high of .504.
If the league overlooks Bonner for a third straight year, it’s safe to say that something is utterly, disappointingly wrong and corrupt in the All-Star weekend, from the choosing of the three-point contestants to the popularity vote of the rosters for the game.
If Bonner isn’t on the radar, locate him now. For those who never heard of the 6'10" power forward, keep your eyes open, because he’s been lighting up the court from downtown—literally—and is definitely a key asset to the Spurs’ success.
Denise Charles is a Featured Columnist for the San Antonio Spurs. She started as an intern at B/R in September 2010. Follow her on Twitter.