Monday, October 17, 2011
MR. BIG SHOT
Bob's greatest hits.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
"Clutch means me getting it done". Robert Horry.
Houston Rockets vs Orlando Magic (June 11, 1995-NBA Finals, Game 3)
The ball is inbounded to Hakeem Olaujawon deep in the post, screens are being set, late fourth quarter nerves are running and Shaq is trying to stop dreams from coming true, giving Houston more problems than Apollo 13. Still it's Hakeem and the Rocket's lucky day as the centre finds a teammate behind the arc with a trademark, beautiful pass. The player receiving the ball hits for three over top D man Horace Grant, fogging his goggles and making the home Houston fans rub their eyes with disbelief, making the Magic disappear with an ace in the hole play pulled from his bag of tricks. It's a dagger basket by a young Robert Horry.
They left him open to shoot all day. They didn't think he had what it took. They doubted him. They disregarded him. The former Alabama standout who played in the shadow of Latrell Sprewell brought it all to the light however with a shot that sank like the sun at dusk. Years before he helped Shaq drink championship champagne he made him taste bitter defeat. Before he made everything in his career right, he proved everyone wrong. While everyone though he was just a Will Smith lookalike with a Fresh Prince fade he threw the competition out the door like Jazzy Jeff. ARGH! Opposing fans would scream as all their hopes and dreams were in for a rude-Robert awakening. The number 2-5 was a man that made Houston's second five so strong, but after two big shots and two championship ring Horry was on the move further Northwest. Although his time in Phoenix, wasn't his best (especially with Danny Ainge) Rob never threw the towel in, he kept playing hard until Hollywood called with a script idea that was about to re-write history.
Los Angeles Lakers vs Philadelphia 76ers (June 10, 2001-NBA Finals, Game 3)
With the NBA Finals tied at one game apiece there is not much between the Goliath Los Angeles Lakers and the David, underdog, Philadelphia 76ers. There isn't even any love, definitely no brotherly love in Philly for hometown boy Kobe Bryant as he dribbles the ball up court to a chorus of boos. The ball ends up in the hands of his assistant on-court Brian Shaw who quarterbacks a great heave to Robert Horry in the corner, who is all alone (Aaron Mckie is too late to reach the Laker jersey in the corner, almost as late as he was to eventually don one in the twilight of his career). Horry hoists up his third triple of the game and as it hits twine and parquet. Rob breaks the back of the Sixers, and silences the fans pumping his fists with the passion that's just left the First Union crowd. This is his time, this is his moment. This is his game.
The Lakers gave up serious swingman talent Cedric Ceballos in order to get Robert, but in return Horry answered the call and gave everything he had to a team that became more with his addition. He had to give up the number 25 because of retired Laker legend Gail Goodrich, but Horry's legacy in La, La, Lakerland may one day result in his number 5 jersey being raised to the rafters too. This player played his part and role in Hollywood better than most stars but this was no act, Bob was the genuine article. This fourth quarter moment maker was not lazy at other moments in the game. He just liked to wait for the last scene to draw the final curtain...and boy did he draw. This Western assassin had a lot of bullets in his gun. Give him just a second to aim a shot and...BANG!
Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trailblazers (April 28, 2002-Western Conference First Round, Game 3)
We're in the Rose Garden and the Los Angeles Lakers are about to be pricked by the blooming, blazing hometown Portland team out in Oregon. So Bryant sets a trail driving against the self-dubbed 'Kobe-Stopper' Ruben Patterson, taking him and what seems like the rest of the Trailblazers side into the paint. He furiously kicks the ball out to the three-point line on his right to Robert Horry who calmly catches the peach, sets it on it's seams, rises and drains the clutch three with just two seconds left like he had all the time in the world.
Three years, three trophies and three-balls aplenty Horry kept repeating like episodes of 'Scrubs' on 'Comedy Central'. He drained a game-clinching three-pointer in at least one game in four straight playoff series over the course of the Lakers three-peat campaigns. He really did change the game. Shaq and Kobe may have been the out of this world superstars, but every leading man needs his best supporting actor and the award went to Robert Horry. Along with Rick Fox he formed a forward tandem for the dynasty ages and he played his classic clutch role to the basket along with Derek Fisher, the Fish that continues to save L.A. to this day. Clutch three after clutch free. Who says it doesn't rain in Southern California? When Horry poured, L.A. reigned.
Los Angeles Lakers vs Sacramento Kings (May 26, 2002-Western Conference Finals, Game 4)
In one of the most fiercely competitive series in NBA Playoff history there's nothing between the Californian Kings and Lakers in this bitter clash for the Western throne. Kobe's on the drive again but he cant find the twine from the baseline. The rebound falls to Shaq but his putback needs a mulligan and is put and tipped away by Vlade Divac and the rim. The loose ball bounces away from everybody and outside the arc to no other then Robert Horry for a straight ahead, straight forward three which is classic Horry and vintage NBA history.
Former Laker Vlade Divac must have been real jealous as he dismissed Horry's latest triumph as a "lucky shot", but there is no 'Cheap Shot Bob' here. Vlade needed to "read a paper" or the history books or something. Read all about it. Time and time again Robert Horry's being doing it and coming up big when needed. Hitting three's with a Reggie Miller purity meeting M.J. clutch. Still in 2003 when the Lakers were looking to go forth with a fourth championship the San Antonio Spurs and a 25 point deficit got in the way during the Western Conference Semi-finals. Horry was in a familiar position as the Lakers rallied back from a blow-out looking to close-out the Spurs in Texas, but something just wasn't clicking. Horry drew his long-range gun and fired but his shot was in and out like Kevin Kline in the nighties. As the buzzer sounded the Lakers hadn't just lost the championship to the San Antonio Spurs, this was the beginning of the end as they also lost their 'Mr. Fourth Quarter' to their Western Conference and championship rivals.
San Antonio Spurs vs Detroit Pistons (June 19, 2005-NBA Finals, Game 5)
The clocks winding down, we are in clutch territory yet again but this time Robert Horry's role is to make the inbound pass. Has he been taken out the equation? He passes to Manu Ginoboli on the left hand, three-point side, who pivots around his defender and passes back to Bobby who's been left open by Rasheed Wallace. Brent Barry can see the smirk on 'Big Shot Bob's' face; "your going to leave me open"? It's all good. Corner pocket, 'Mr. Big Shot', Robert Horry three, San An victory, sorry Chauncey.
Still even though the jersey changed to the black and white of the Lakers rivals fans didn't have to expect anything new. It was the same ole 'Big Shot Bob' in San Antonio from the Detroit Pistons to 38 out of 85 threes made in the 2005 playoffs. Horry even dunked and checked his way to victory showing that even in his latter career he'd always go hard for the sweet taste of victory. Horry made it a record seven championships for his career becoming the eighth wonder of the Basketball world and a top ten all-time clutch player...if not top five, or top three. Bird, Jordan and he...sorry Kobe. With the three Robert Horry put up more numbers than most legends would dream of...and he did it all from the bench.
The statistics and rings speak and count for themselves. The Hall should make way. Fame? Horry was infamous in a town where celebrities ran the courtside as well as the baseline. For the record Robert is one of only nine players in NBA history to have won seven or more championships in the NBA. Out of these nine of a kind guys he's the only one who did not play on the 1960s Celtics, this Laker legend is in a generation and class of his own, joining his 2000 champion team-mate John Salley as the only other player to win championships with three different NBA teams.
He may have not started games, but he sure did finish them. Carrying his team and family name with pride. Robert's arc of talent extended from behind the line as he also became the first NBA player in history 100 steals, 100 blocked shots and 100 threes in one season. Still, speaking of more big three's his seven in '97 against Utah made for the most three-point field goals made in a game without a miss. He's even outdone the greatest players of all-time. Fellow Laker alumni and all-time points leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is now second in playoff games played behind Horry. Now if you thought that was big the record for the number of three-pointers in an NBA Finals doesn't belong to Michael Jordan's 42 anymore, it belongs to Robert Horry's 53. Could the greatest Sixth Man of all-time be the greatest clutch player in NBA history? Time will tell like the reviews of the record but one things for sure, there is nobody like Robert Horry, no substitute. When talking about the greats people may not start with Robert, but they sure will finish with him. Like at the end of the game at the end of the day its all about Horry. The rafters and the Hall is waiting, here's hoping the NBA doesn't leave it to the last minute, they're not experts at that like he is. Hands down, seconds out, nobody did it like him. Three, two, one...none.
"That's just Robert man". Kobe Bryant.