Toronto Blue Jays: Kawasaki and T.O.’s love of unorthodox sports heroes

TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 3: Munenori Kawasaki
TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 3: Munenori Kawasaki /
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Toronto Blue Jays
DENVER – JANUARY 23: Andre Miller /

Matt Bonner

The two-time NBA Champion, who is affectionately known in Toronto as the Red Rocket, spent only two seasons with the Raptors, but left his mark.

Like Kawasaki, Matt Bonner was an entertaining, bench player, whose personality far surpassed his contributions on the court.

The New Hampshire native averaged 7.3 points and 3.6 rebounds as a Raptor, to go with an impressive .441 three-point percentage between 2004-2006.

One of his most memorable moments in Toronto was when he was ejected after a flagrant foul on the Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Garnett. The 6 foot10 redhead left to a standing ovation as chants of “Bonner, Bonner, Bonner,” echoed throughout the Air Canada Centre.

After retiring following the 2015-16 season, Bonner made an entertaining, self-deprecating “retirement announcement” and gave a shout out to Toronto and Canada.

Maybe it was because the team was struggling, or that the Vince Carter era was coming to end but the city embraced Bonner with arms wide open.

Or maybe it’s the fact  Toronto (and other Canadian markets) often face an unfair bias from super star free agents, so the fanbase looks to untraditional heroes, who are less likely to hurt them.

Bonner was clearly a fan of Canada too, as he married a Canuck (his wife Nadia) and tried for Canadian citizenship.