Retired Spurs player Matt Bonner teaches investing: ‘Tesla is killing it’ in his portfolio

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Matt Bonner #15 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts against the Miami Heat during Game Five of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 15, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO – Retired San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner didn’t do any research when he and his 8-year-old daughter sat down to pick some stocks.

“I wanted her to invest in something she’s interested in,” Bonner said during halftime of the Spurs’ contest against the Washington Wizards on Saturday.

He explained to E.V.: “When you buy shares of a company, you become a tiny owner of that company, and when the company makes money, then, in theory, you make money as well based on many shares of that company you own.”

E.V., who is now 10, was eyeing two sectors: toys and flowers.

Toys were easy enough. Bonner bought stock in Mattel for E.V.’s E-Trade custodial account. Flowers were a trickier industry to pin down, but a quick search turned up 1-800-Flowers, which is publicly traded and has done quite well for her portfolio. Its shares are up 30% over the last 12 months and 57.3% since E.V. invested about two years ago, he said.

“That’s a pretty good return on investment,” said Bonner, who retired from the NBA in 2017 and now works as a sports analyst on the San Antonio Spurs TV Broadcast.

E.V. caught on fast.

“If she gets money for her birthday, she wants me to put it in her account to buy more stocks,” Bonner said. “I think future value of money is such an important concept that people don’t understand. If you invest your money, what it’s worth 20 years from now is way more than what it is now.”

Bonner credits his investing acumen to his sixth-grade teacher, who gave students $10,000 in fake money to invest in the stock market. His class in Concord, New Hampshire, tracked their investments over the course of a year. Whoever made the most money received a trophy. She instilled discipline by prohibiting students from trading more than once a month, he said.

He bought fake shares in Best Buy in the early 1990s — before it was anchoring shopping malls across the country. While he didn’t take home the trophy in the sixth grade, the two-time NBA championship player now runs two trading accounts. His professional money managers at UBS manage his main portfolio, but he has another “hobby” account with E-Trade.

He said he invests “relatively nominal amounts” in his E-Trade account but declined to say what was a nominal investment for a professional athlete who earned more than $30 million over his career. “It’s more for like, competitive juices to try to see if I could do it,” he said.

Bonner, 39, so far owns shares Amazon, Apple and Coca-Cola.

J.P. Morgan is killing it,” he said. “Tesla is killing it.” Another stock he likes that’s performed well for him over the years is Waste Management.

Bonner didn’t say when he bought the shares, but J.P. Morgan’s stock has more than doubled in the past five years, from just under $59 a share to about $126 this week. Tesla’s shares are up by about 39%, from around $235 a share five years.

Waste Management, like J.P. Morgan, has more than doubled.

That was another stock tip he took away from his sixth-grade teacher, he said. “She said, ‘There’s always money in garbage.’ And she was right,” he said.

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