The San Antonio Spurs roster is currently enjoying that luxury afforded to only a select few NBA players during their entire career - an offseason in which they can be introduced as a reigning champion.
Matt Bonner - fresh of a new one year veteran's minimum deal in San Antonio - is one such player and GiveMeSport caught up with the three-point perfectionist during his recent visit to London in his capacity as part of the Foot Locker EU Three-Point-Challenge.
Bonner, himself a ten year member of the Spurs roster under Greg Popovich, got his hands on his second ring courtesy of the franchise's 4-1 NBA Finals series win over the Miami Heat back in June.
The dominance of the Spurs 'total basketball' during that series surprised many onlookers who had expected a Game Seven to be required to separate the two NBA heavyweights as was the case back in 2013.
In that instance the Spurs came within seconds of being crowned 2013-14 champions only for Ray Allen to rescue Miami in Game Six before the Florida franchise went on to wrap up the title in Game Seven.
And speaking to Bonner now it is easy to see just how gratifying beating the same opponents so convincingly in 2014 was. With the 2013 heartache serving as the perfect motivating factor, and victory in June the ultimate icing on the cake:
"I think extra satisfaction is an understatement," revealed Bonner when I quizzed him about the recent retribution.
"I think it was one of those things where the way we lost in 2013 was literally devastating. You work so hard all season towards your goal and to be 30 seconds away from having that happen...We all probably didn't want that to haunt us the rest of our lives.
"I think the only way to do that was to come back and win it last year which we did. It made it feel extra good," continued the 34-year-old University of Florida graduate.
Bonner's view on the competition
Matt Bonner has been around the NBA long enough - debuting with the Toronto Raptors in 2004 after a season with Pallacanestro Messina in Italy which he describes as "a great life experience" in which he "got just as much out of it off the court" as on it - to know that the least appropriate time to rest up is when you're sitting at the top.
As such the 'Red Mamba' is well aware of the competition he and the Spurs face in their bid to repeat, not only in a "very difficult" Western Conference but also from those in the East should the Spurs arrive at the 2014-15 NBA Finals.
"You've got some young up and coming teams there (in the East) too," said Bonner before listing the likes of Toronto, Washington and a Chicago Bulls franchise boosted by the acquisition of Pau Gasol and the rehabilitation of Derrick Rose.
But as is becoming an increasingly popular opinion amongst many the Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be the ones to keep an eye on:
"Obviously the Cavs are an instant contender with LeBron James and the other player's they've put around him," Bonner explained.
As for the Spurs recent Finals foes the Miami Heat and their 2014-15 chances?
"I think they'll still be a good team," Bonner added.
"I mean obviously you lose LeBron James that hurts but they still have good players there so they can still compete."
Entering his 10th season with the San Antonio Spurs Bonner can be sure of one thing - long-standing head coach Popovich will already be preparing his roster for all challengers ahead of the new NBA season this fall.
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