Before he was hitting threes as the Red Mamba for the San Antonio Spurs, Matt Bonner was assembling sandwiches on the corner of Manchester and Concord at a local deli in New Hampshire. Bonner’s life in New England was filled with sandwiches, whether it was at his summer job or at the dinner table, where the Bonner family would feast on grinders every Friday night. Bonner’s sandwich surroundings eventually gave way to a side career as a blogger, as the three-point shooting big man began keeping track of his nationwide sandwich exploits for the Spurs’ website in 2008.
“At that time, blogs were a big thing,” Bonner told SI Eats earlier this month. “There wasn’t as much social media, it was all blogs.”
Bonner had a routine on the road. After shootaround and before his afternoon nap, he would search cities for their best hoagies, subs, or anything else stuffed between two slices of bread. His travels were then chronicled in a series called “The Quest for the Hoagie Grail.” These days, Bonner still works for the Spurs as a TV analyst. (He’s also partnered with Futuro, and he swears by their compression socks to keep his calves loose after a long NBA career.)
Bonner may be out of the blogging game and his legs may not have as much lift as they did 10 years ago, but his knowledge of sandwiches is only expanding. With that in mind, SI Eats asked Bonner to find the perfect sandwich for some of his fellow Spurs luminaries.
“Coach Pop, he grew up in Gary, Indiana, which is just outside Chicago. So I think a sandwich native to Chicago would be ideal. So an Italian Beef, maybe.”
“Tim Duncan, I never saw him eat sandwiches that often. But when we used to go to Philadelphia, former Spur Malik Rose would always hook us up with these amazing Steak and Cheese sandwiches. Tim would always crush one on the plane home from Philadelphia. So I’m going to say a Steak and Cheese for Tim Duncan.”
“Boris Diaw, I’d go with like, The Works. Everything. Just everything in the sandwich. Every type of meat. Peanut butter and jelly. Mayonnaise. Every type of cheese.”
“Tony has a refined sandwich taste. Tony is French, and I know Boris is too, but Tony, I picture him having a finger, appetizer-sized sandwich. Something French in there, like foie gras, or a frog leg sandwich or an escargot sandwich. Maybe with a little glass of wine.”
“Steak sandwich. He’s Argentinian, that’s a no-brainer. Argentina is known for its superior beef products. I’d go with a simple steak sandwich. Not Steak and Cheese—there’s a difference.”