Matt Bonner Talks Big Red

When you receive a press release in your inbox informing you that Matt Bonner has just become the official brand ambassador of Big Red soda, your first reaction is, of course.

Your next step is to find out more about Big Red soda, which is a popular soda in Texas that has a unique taste that many say is similar to bubble gum.

Afterwards, you just take a second to marvel at the photo of a smiling Bonner posing with a bottle of Big Red.

Knowing that this image will be “found on Big Red soda displays at hundreds of stores across Central and South Texas” makes this news infinitely better. Just imagine strolling through your grocery store and seeing a giant display of Matt Bonner. Matt Bonner brings a smile to your face, admit it.

The 6-10 red-headed sharpshooter from New Hampshire has become a fan favorite for the myriad of quirks that set him apart from other NBA players. From being a serious sandwich connoisseur to having Kobe Bryant bestow him with the nickname Red Mamba, Bonner is a legend in NBA circles for his uniqueness. Becoming the brand ambassador for Big Red is just the latest chapter in the unique tale that is Matt Bonner.

To get some more insight on his role with Big Red, SLAM caught up with Bonner for some quick questions. Check it out:

SLAM: Big Red says that you are a “deliciously different” addition to their team. How are you “deliciously different”? Is that an apt description for you?

Matt Bonner: Aside from the time I fell into a barrel of maple syrup when I was eight, I can’t vouch for the delicious part. As for being different, I don’t know? I just try to be myself.

SLAM: Wait, you once fell into a barrel of maple syrup?

MB: [Laughs] That never happened. I was just joking!

SLAM: Big Red says they are America’s best-selling “red soda,” are there any other bestselling red products you can see yourself endorsing?

MB: Manu always gives me grief for putting a ton of ketchup on everything. So maybe that? Or maybe I could endorse stop signs. I’m a big fan of traffic laws. They are important. Other possibilities: Redbox, Red Robin, Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Reddit, Red Lobster, Red Rider BB Gun, Red Cross, and Clifford the Big Red Dog.

SLAM: Since you are the Sandwich Hunter, what is the ideal sandwich to eat and then wash down with a glass of Big Red?

MB: Any sandwich goes well with a Big Red. But if I had to pick one, I’d say a pickled cow tongue sandwich. The sweetness of the Big Red compliments the overall bitterness of the cow tongue quite nicely.

SLAM: You are now affectionately known as the Red Mamba and the Red Rocket, but growing up did people ever call you Big Red? Or was there another affectionate nickname?

MB: Actually, I was indeed often called Big Red. I grew up in Concord, New Hampshire where everyone is a Celtics fan. Since Dave Cowens’s nickname was “Big Red” and I was a tall kid with red hair, it was only natural that I inherited the moniker.

SLAM: On a more serious note, with the whole push across the country to cut down on sugary drinks, like with Michelle Obama’s Drink Up campaign—why did you partner with Big Red? People may say that you should be promoting healthy choices, so are you afraid of any backlash?

MB: I’m not trying to perpetuate a Coo-Coo Cola situation; yes, I just referenced Chip n Dale’s Rescue Rangers. As a parent and role model, teaching kids to make healthy choices is important to me. That being said, I think it’s perfectly okay to have a soft drink on occasion. For example, I love getting popcorn and a soda when I go to the movies. Why not make that soda a Big Red?

Ananth Pandian is a writer based in Boston. He’s on Twitter @Ananth_Pandian.