SAN ANTONIO – Spurs player Matt Bonner calls it “Hairgate.” A Judson middle school student was sent home after getting a hairdo of his hero and was told to shave it off.
His plight struck a chord across the nation. It seems everyone has an opinion, from ESPN’s “Around the Horn” commentators to the Red Rocket himself.
Twelve-year-old Patrick Gonzalez went to Razor Sharp Cuts at Ingram Park Mall, a barber shop known for its wacky Spurs haircuts that get a lot of attention. But this haircut got more fame – even infamy – than anyone bargained for.
They never get the attention they deserve. Sometimes it feels the Spurs are the red-headed stepchildren of the NBA. Maybe that’s why Patrick is such a big Matt Bonner fan.
“He has red hair, just like I do,” the sixth grader says. “I like all the three-pointers he makes.”
Patrick has playoff fever and headed to the barber shop Tuesday night to honor his favorite player.
“He came in and he’s like, ‘I’m ready to do Matt Bonner,’” Joe Barber says. “I’m like, ‘Are you really a fan?’ He’s like, ‘Yes, I’m a fan.’ I said okay.”
There’s no denying Joe Barber’s an artist. He showed us how he carved the Big Three players into one customer’s head.
"I was proud because finally Matt Bonner's getting some love,” Joe says about Patrick’s hairdo. “I'm a big fan of Matt Bonner. He's a quiet dude. He's humble. He takes care of business."
So Joe shaved a Matt Bonner portrait on the back of Patrick’s head.
Patrick loved it, his mom was cool with it – but here’s where things got dicey.
The Gonzalez family says it got permission from Woodlake Hills Middle School in the Judson district, but the dress code forbids “distracting hairstyles,” and Patrick was sent to in-school suspension Wednesday.
"He didn't do anything wrong,” his mother Rose Gonzalez says. “I don't know if it's because the hair color stood out more, because I've seen other kids with designs."
Patrick had to shave the style to go back to class Thursday.
"My mom paid money for it and we had to pay money just to get it cut off,” Patrick says. “He was my favorite player. I just wanted to show spirit."
For what it’s worth, Matt Bonner loved the hairdo.
"Couldn't they just move him to the back of the class?” Bonner says. “Then no one would see it and it wouldn't be a distraction. Otherwise, the nicest thing any fan's ever done for me is ruined."
But Bonner says his mom is a retired elementary school teacher so he’s glad Patrick played by the rules.
"Keep supporting us redheads in the NBA,” he tells Patrick. "Keep working on your game and maybe someday, I'll be shaving you into the back of my head."
Patrick says what a class act, from one redhead to another.
"I'd be excited,” Patrick says about Bonner’s offer to shave his own head. “It's probably the nicest thing anybody's ever done for me."
But the Red Rocket’s about to top that: Bonner gave the Gonzalez family free tickets to the Game 2 playoff game against the Clippers Thursday night, and will meet Patrick before the game.