Sports: The N.B.A. playoffs, career change, and great sandwiches

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Matt Bonner's been through it all.
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Thursday, April 13, 2017

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Ray Whitehouse for The New York Times
After a Basketball Career, More Basketball
During his 10 seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, Matt Bonner was known among reporters as a go-to quote. On a team of businesslike superstars (Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker), Bonner was quirky and candid. He answered fans’ questions online. He searched the country for the best sandwiches. And he cherished the nickname that Kobe Bryant gave him: the Red Mamba.
Bonner was a pretty good player, too. A career 41.4 percent shooter from 3-point range, he came off the bench for the Spurs and helped them win two championships.
But at the start of this season, back in October, Bonner was nowhere to be found. The Spurs had decided not to re-sign him. In January, Bonner re-emerged to announce his retirement at age 36.
That does not mean he has stopped working. With the Spurs set to face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the N.B.A. playoffs this weekend, Bonner is adjusting to his new role — as a studio analyst for the Spurs’ television network. He still studies game tape.
“So I can go back and make notes of all the different mistakes I’ve made,” he told me.
I was curious about that transition, which is common among professional athletes. One day, you’re playing basketball for millions. The next day, nobody wants you and you have to figure out what to do with the rest of your life. So I talked to Bonner about the process and about jumping into broadcasting, which involved rummaging through his closet for his finest flannel shirts.
“I think you never really know what you want to do when you stop playing,” he said. “So my thing was, I was just going to pick something and commit to it.”
Scott Cacciola
Sports Reporter
What You Should Be Reading Now
Carmelo Anthony (7) might have played his final game in a Knicks' uniform in Wednesday's regular-season finale.

Ben Solomon for The New York Times
Sports of The Times
Although the Knicks beat the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, the victory meant nothing. It was the contrast in team philosophies that was striking.
• N.B.A. Playoffs 2017: Who We Think Will Win

Bettmann Archive, via Getty Images
Westbrook’s rather outrageous regular season must be considered the single greatest season by any athlete ever, right? No? Here are some other contenders.

Celtics forward Gerald Green went in for a dunk against the Bucks on Wednesday night in Boston.

CJ Gunther/European Pressphoto Agency
It’s a good time to be a sports fan in the city. But it wasn’t always that way.

Cam Atkinson, who scored 35 goals for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season, playing against the Philadelphia Flyers last month.

Jay Laprete/Associated Press
Atkinson, who said he had been told repeatedly that he was too small to make it in hockey, sent Columbus into the playoffs on a high note.

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James Kaprielian, Yankees Top Pitching Prospect, Will Undergo Tommy John Surgery


Kaprielian, who has pitched well this spring, complained of elbow pain last week and will be shut down for the rest of the season.

Celtics Edge Cavaliers for the Top Seed in the Eastern Conference


Boston beat Milwaukee and Cleveland lost to Toronto on the final day of the N.B.A.’s regular season, for which several teams rested their best players.

Vegas Golden Knights, N.H.L. Expansion Team, Hire Head Coach


The team hired Gerard Gallant, most recently the head coach of the Florida Panthers, who fired him on Nov. 28 after they stumbled to an 11-10-1 start.

Forgettable Knicks’ Season Ends, but Bonds Remain


Despite a poor won-loss record, and intrigue about where Carmelo Anthony may end up, New York has been an interesting experience for the team’s new players.

Chicago Cubs Receive First World Series Rings in Team’s History


The first championship Cubs since 1907 and 1908 (when the players received gold pendants) were awarded rings featuring diamonds for each of the 108 years of the club’s drought.

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We’re Listening
Last week, a reader, Glenn Campbell, used the email address below to lament that his local newspaper no longer carries baseball scores and that “a daily source of scores, standings and box scores would be nice.” Well, Glenn, first, we feel your pain. We could never begin to add up the hours we’ve spent poring over baseball box scores in the paper. Some of us learned math this way. But the good news is, if your local paper is letting you down, The New York Times has a trove of baseball statistics, box scores and more on its website. Enough, we hope, to satisfy any seamhead. And from that baseball scoreboard, you can find as much information on just about any other major sport with a few clicks over there on the right. Have fun. 
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What to Watch This Weekend
  • BASEBALL The Cardinals and the Yankees need things to go just right this season, but fans of both teams will be quick to point out their World Series history. Catch them Sunday night when Adam Wainwright takes on Michael Pineda (8 p.m. Eastern, ESPN). SCHEDULE
  • N.B.A. It’s the second season, and the most competitive first-round series might be Utah-L.A. Clippers (10:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN). The Jazz looked as if they had the fourth seed sealed up for a while, until the Clippers ended the season on an impressive run. On Sunday, we get the much anticipated matchup of Houston and Oklahoma City. James Harden and Russell Westbrook can settle the M.V.P. conversation on the court (9 p.m., TNT). THE SCHEDULE
  • SOCCER Two classic matchups — the Milan Derby on Saturday (6:30 a.m., beIN) and Chelsea's visit to Manchester United on Sunday (11 a.m., NBCSN) — highlight the weekend, and still leave plenty of time for you to get outside. SCHEDULES
  • HOCKEY The first round of the N.H.L. playoffs began Wednesday, and the various networks in the NBC family will be carrying every game. This weekend's highlights include Game 2 between the Rangers and the Canadiens on Friday (7 p.m., USA); Game 2 between the Maple Leafs and the Capitals on Saturday (7 p.m., NBCSN); and Game 3 between the Penguins and the Blue Jackets on Sunday (6 p.m., CNBC).  An NBC doubleheader on Saturday features Game 2 of the Senators-Bruins series at 3 p.m. and Game 2 of the Predators-Blackhawks series at 8 p.m. THE SCHEDULE
  • HORSE RACING O.K., we let you down last week when we left three Kentucky Derby prep races off the weekend calendar. There’s just one major prep left, the Arkansas Derby. Post time is 7:18 p.m. Saturday (TVG). The unbeaten Malagacy has qualified to race on the first Saturday in May, but keep an eye on Untrapped.  
  • AUTO RACING Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes got a big win in China last Sunday as the rivalry with Ferrari heats up in Formula One. This weekend the series heads to Bahrain (Sunday, 11 a.m., CNBC). SCHEDULE
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