PRO BASKETBALL PLAYER
The “Big Man from St. Louis” was one of the top forwards in the NBA during the 1990s. He dominated the competition in the pros, and also made a lasting impact on the basketball program at Saint Louis University in his hometown.
THE EARLY YEARS
Anthony Bonner was born on June 8, 1968, and grew up in St. Louis. He played for perennial powerhouse Vashon High School where he led the Wolverines to the state tournament numerous times. He won the honor of Mr. Show Me Basketball in 1986 and was heavily recruited by major college basketball programs across the country during his senior year. Much to the joy of St. Louis basketball fans, the 6´8. forward decided to stay close to home to play his college basketball at Saint Louis University.
RISE TO FAME
Bonner was an instant force for the Billikens as a freshman. He averaged more than ten points a game during his first season and continued to dominate the “paint” during his sophomore and junior years. During his junior season, he led Saint Louis University to its best record in school history, 27–10.
As he entered his senior year, the city of St. Louis was crazy for SLU hoops. The Arena was packed for every home game, not only with fans but also with NBA scouts. Bonner certainly didn’t disappoint. He carried the Billikens to a 21–12 season, led the nation in rebounding, and contributed twenty points per game. His dream of a career in the NBA came true when the Sacramento Kings selected him in the first round in the 1990 NBA Draft.
SHOW ME SUCCESS
His first season in the NBA in 1991 was a year of transition as he bulked up in size and became acclimated to the faster pace. The twenty-two-year-old athlete only played in about half the games his first year, but he still managed to put up some good numbers for rebounding and scoring. He stayed in Sacramento for the next two years before the New York Knicks picked him up to complement Patrick Ewing in the paint. The Knicks made it all the way to the NBA Finals in 1994 where they lost to the Houston Rockets in seven games. New York made the playoffs again the following year but fell to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He was traded once again the following year, this time to the Orlando Magic. The team again made a playoff run with Bonner on the inside but lost to the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan.
After his playing days in the NBA were over, he played in professional leagues in Europe. After Europe, he returned to St. Louis to give back to the community that gave so much to him. There, he sponsored youth basketball camps to help young athletes attain the same level of success he enjoyed.
*He was the 23rd overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft.
*Bonner is still the career leader in scoring, rebounding, steals, and minutes played for the Billikens.