Thursday, February 04, 2010

Robert Horry: Hall of Fame worthy?


I was talking to my friend Supreme last week and he mentioned that he got into a debate with his friend Shawn. It would seem that Shawn was arguing that Big Shot Bobby (Robert Horry) should be in the Hall of Fame for his contributions and clutch performances to seven championship teams. I once agreed with that line of thinking a few years back but my stance has progressively changed. My main problem with putting Horry in the Hall of Fame is this: we’re saying that he is on the same level as players such as Wilt, Russel, Bird, Magic, Kareem, Dr. J, Moses Malone, Karl Malone, Jerry West, Charles Barkley, Oscar Robertson, Kevin McHale, James Worthy, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Scottie Pippen and obviously the GOAT (short for Greatest Of All Time). But on the other hand, Big Shot Bobby has more titles then #23. So does Shawn have a valid point? Glad you asked. Let’s break it down and find out.

What are your memories of Robert Horry’s playing days with the Phoenix Suns? People forget that Horry was once traded to Phoenix. During his time there, he was a decent player but did not provide that team with much. On the other hand, he did win rings with the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs. Here’s a quick look at Big Shot’s clutch performances (compiled by Wikipedia):

-May 22, 1995 Western Conference Finals Game 1 Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs
Horry nailed a jumper with 6.5 seconds left to give Houston a 94–93 win over San Antonio in front of over 35,000 at the Alamodome.[11]
-June 11, 1995 NBA Finals Game 3 Orlando Magic at Houston Rockets
With Houston up by one with 14 seconds left and the shot clock winding down, Hakeem Olajuwon kicked a pass out to Horry, who launched a three over Orlando's Horace Grant, propelling the Rockets to a 106–103 victory and a 3–0 series lead on the way to a sweep and back-to-back NBA titles.[12]
-May 6, 1997 Western Conference Semifinals Game 2 Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz
Horry drained all seven of his three-point shots. However, this proved to be not enough as the Lakers lost Game 2 103–101 and ultimately the series 4–1.[12]
With the series tied at 1–1, the Sixers were within one point with under a minute to play and with Shaquille O'Neal on the bench having fouled out for the Lakers. Brian Shaw found Horry in the corner and he drilled the three with 47.1 seconds left to give the Lakers what proved to be an insurmountable four-point lead. The Sixers never recovered.[12]
-April 28, 2002 Western Conference First Round Game 3 Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers
Down by two with 10.2 seconds left, Kobe Bryant drove on Ruben Patterson and kicked the ball to Horry, who hit a game-winning three.[12]
-May 26, 2002 Western Conference Finals Game 4 Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Lakers
The Kings led 99–97 with two seconds left when center Vlade Divac knocked the ball out of the paint after Shaquille O'Neal missed a putback layup. The ball came to Horry, who launched a game-winning three-pointer as time expired to give the Lakers a 100–99 victory. Instead of going back to Sacramento down 1-3, the shot tied the series at 2-2 and allowed the Lakers to defeat the Kings in 7 games on their way to a third straight championship.[12]
Horry inbounded the ball to Manu GinĂ³bili who was cornered by two Pistons defenders. Ginobili returned the ball to Horry on the left wing, who then hit a three-pointer with 5.9 seconds left to give the San Antonio Spurs a 96–95 victory and a 3–2 series lead heading into Game 6. Horry scored 21 points in fourth quarter and overtime to carry the struggling Spurs. [12]
-April 30, 2007 Western Conference First Round Game 4 San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets
The Spurs led by one with 30 seconds left when Horry hit a game-securing three-point shot, handing the Spurs their fifth straight playoff victory in Denver.

So the man knows how to make big shots. However, does that make him Hall of Fame worthy? When inducting players into the Hall, the voters usually look at how what you did during your era and your contributions to winning. For instance, James Worthy was one of the marquee small forwards of the 80’s and contributed to multiple Lakers championships; therefore he was granted access to the Hall. So what’s the one obstacle in this case for Big Shot’s case? He’s never really even been one of the top four players on his own team. The guys that make it into the Hall, are guys that were incredibly good and one of the top players at their position in the league. Let’s sift through Horry’s career. Look at the top fours on his championship teams.

Houston Rockets:
Hakeem Olajuwon
Clyde Drexler (one year)
Vernon Maxwell
Kenny Smith
Otis Thorpe

Los Angeles Lakers
Shaquille O’Neal
Kobe Bryant
Glen Rice (one year)
Derek Fisher
Ron Harper

San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan
Manu Ginobili
Tony Parker
Michael Finley

See, Big Shot Bobby doesn’t make the cut on any of his own teams. I would have a tough time giving a player HOF status if he wasn’t one of the truly best players of his generation. That being said, I still have not convinced myself completely. Let’s look deeper.

If chosen, giving access to Robert Horry to the prestigious Hall of Fame causes one big problem: it sets a precedent. Think about these names: Bill Cartwright, John Paxson, Vernon Maxwell, Sam Cassel, Kenny Smith, Luc Longley, Steve Kerr, A.C. Green, Ron Harper, Derek Fisher and Glen Rice. Are any of these players worthy of a spot in the Hall of Fame? The players currently in the Hall would probably answer with a song from the South: “Bitch n*gga you can neva eva, neva eva, neva eva get on my level”. And by giving a spot to Big Shot, we would have to consider the possibility of the previously mentioned players making the Hall as well. You see, to me (I repeat, to me, as in my own interpretation) the Hall of Fame is about the best players to have ever lived. When I look at players such as Dominique Wilkins, Scottie Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon and Magic Johnson to name a few, I know I am looking at some of the greatest talents that have ever lived. These guys could do it all, and did it at a high level for a sustained amount of time in big pressure situations; whereas Robert Horry had some spurts of success. Still not convinced, let me use the comparison that Bill Simmons from ESPN used. If you were to make a Hall of Fame of the best rappers ever; we would probably have the likes of Tupac, Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Outkast, Eminem, Rakim, LL Cool J, the whole Wu-Tang Clan and another list of names attached to that list. My question to you: does Nate Dogg make the cut? Hell no, right? Because Nate Dogg is a guy that you line up with other great rappers and just ask him to do a chorus or a few good sounds like Oohs and Ahhs. I can’t tell you what solo hit songs Nate Dogg has recorded because I have no clue. But off the top of my head, I know of hits such as:
-Oh No by Talib Kweli
-21 Questions by 50 Cent
-Area Codes by Ludacris
-Bitch please by Dr. Dre
-Regulate by Warren G
-Xxplosive by Dr. Dre
-F*ck You by Dr. Dre

All of those songs have one thing in common; Nate Dogg’s name preceded by “ft” (short for featuring). Much like Nate Dogg, Robert Horry is a good complimentary role player; nothing more, nothing less. He has been fortunate enough to play with three bonafide Hall of Fame centers (Olajuwon, O’Neal, Duncan) who have put him in a position to take those shots without fearing failure. Do remember, Big Shot was open in those moments in most instances because his man was double teaming someone. In addition, Horry would never have been pegged as the goat had he missed a big shot; because that is reserved for the stars. For instance, back in 2003, in game 5 at San Antonio, Robert Horry missed a wide open three that would have resulted in the Lakers taking a 3-2 lead in the series. Instead, the Lakers lost and were eventually eliminated, but those moments never get much air time. That’s the beauty of being Big Shot Bob, your heroics are remembered but your blunders are tucked away where no one can remember them.

But in conclusion, the whole debate can be summed up with one question: are you comfortable mentioning Robert Horry in the same breath as Wilt, Hakeem, Shaq and Mike? Because putting him in the HOF puts him in conversations with those players. From my standpoint, I don’t feel comfortable putting him there.

Photo by: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
From: ESPN

21 comments:

Rod said...

Robert Horry doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Many seasons of his career he would dog it just about the entire regular season while his teammates busted their busted their ass. just because he hit a few big shots his lack of consistent play was swept under the rug. If you're going to be in the Hall of Fame you better have a CONSISTENT body of work which includes the regular season and the playoffs. The only thing Horry has shown is he can ride the backs of HOF big men (Hakeem, Shaq, and Duncan) and hit a big shot every now and then. That's not worthy of the Hall of Fame to me. When you see the players he's played with throughout his career is it any wonder he has 7 rings?

Anonymous said...

What..no Q-Tip?

Tim said...

i know robert horry was much better than glen rice at the lakers. glen rice was much slower and injury prone then. he barely played.. enough to send him to the knicks where his career ended unfortunately.. when glen was in CHA he was amazing though..

B said...

When inducting players into the Hall, the voters usually look at how what you did during your era and your contributions to winning

that quote right there shows that Horry should definatley be in the Hall..."Contirbutions to winning" you take Horry contributions away from those 7 championship teams and there would be at least 3 where the team doesnt take the ship`.

hall of fame right there.

also derrick fisher a better player than horry...no chance not now not ever!

same deal with glenn rice at the lakers and michael finley at the spurs...

tatum said...

the problem w/ fans against horry going into the hall of fame is that horry didn't get any attention until the twilight of his career- by then, he was less impressive to watch because he was older and less athletic. if you looked back on his rockets years, you'd see how much he brought to his team, and would not doubt he was a key contributor toward their championships.

yes, he played on great teams w/ star players, but that also meant he recorded less minutes, and therefore less box score numbers. we can worship big numbers all we want, but unless u watched horry hit those playoff shots, bringing more energy off the bench, and felt the emotion on both sides...u cannot gauge his worth. the energy he gives his teams and fans alone should put him in the hall of fame.

no, he wasn't a star player, but that was part of his personality- he was anything but flashy and didn't care for the spotlight. i remember when he was called for a foul in an important game, and he just laughed it off. that was the kind of player he was on the court. perhaps it is this laid-back attitude that makes him seem less believable as a star. he is probably the most underrated player of my time.

and finally, the biggest argument of all- yes, at least 3 championships were swung in horry's team's favour thanks to him. no doubt horry brought something to the game of basketball- jaw-dropping moments- again and again.

...and this is all said by a fan of webber's sacramento team in 2002.

Anonymous said...

I have a huge problem with what your wrote here. You're overlooking the intangibles, the heart, the clutchness! It's no coincidence that he was on top so often! The man was a key part of the winning formula...

I'm talking, of course, about your snub of Nate Dogg. Who's this Horry cat you kept referring to?

Anonymous said...

B is an idiot Horry doesn't belong there and we all know it. He got 7 rings from seven different teams. Sounds a little fishy. Horry makes it then anyone else that has made those clutch shots deserves it as well. And to whoever said that Horry is better than Fisher check your mind right. Fisher is a great contributor to the Lakers still.

andrewV said...

i agree with tatum because horry was really a smart iq'd player. (dont know if that is a work haha) but if you watch the interview he had with jim gray after the clutch shot from game 4 against the kings. the way he says you cant really think about the time and all he did was focus on his foot work. (a lot more) he knew what he was doing. he wasnt the most popular and was a lot like rick fox, except horry had way more skill. fox is just an actor and only cares about winning on dancing with the stars hahahaha! so over all does horry deserve to be in the hall of fame - i think so but there is many pros and cons to it. im a laker fan and i was young when i watched the 2000s laker champs. im still a laker fan but i always remember those big shots by rob!

juice said...

according to your article, only former mvps deserve to make the hall. if that were case the hall would be rather spacious. if horry doesn't make the hall, then you've got to remove all of those celtics that averaged 5 point per game. all of those old stand still shooters from the 50s and 60s. all of those bums that wilt dunked on.

dalauder said...

What people seem to miss is that Horry didn't just get lucky. If you watch a bunch of his highlights, you will see that he moves to the right spot repeatedly because he is in tune with the "final play" type offense.

Why did he catch Divac's tip out to him against the Kings? Because that was the most likely spot the ball would go to if it wasn't involved in tip-backs at the rim.

Robert Horry is not one of the greatest players ever--but he's probably the greatest playoff clutch shooter ever because he puts himself in a position to be a part of that play. Sure guys like Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher have their merits--but they didn't help win 7 rings. Really, how long is the list of guys that earned 7 rings?

Now I'm not saying Horry has to be HOF. If it's agreed that you need to do more than just one thing best--you've got to do it all well (although plenty of HOF'ers were one-sided) and be one of the best, then he shouldn't be HOF. But if HOF is defined by those deserving to be remembered for what they accomplished--well I guess his name goes before Karl Malone. And Malone's rightfully already HOF.

As defined in HOF guidelines, the player must have made a "significant contribution to the game of basketball". Watch Nique's Highlights and then what Horry's. Sure Nique's fun to watch, but who contributed more to NBA History? My guess is Horry. (Of course Nique did make dunking cooler, but he's no Dr. J.) And Nique's already HOF.

(Dr. J was the cause of the ABA merger and did all those great things on the court too.)

troy dalton said...

No Doubt Horry Deserves HOF Status..He's Only contributed 2 three teams Championships with big Shot after Big Shot..I mean if no clutch Scottie Pippen can be HOF & 50 GREATEST Then go 2 portland & become the 3rd option the very next yr after winning 3 back2back2back championships then hell yeah "BIG SHOT BOB" Deserves at least HOF BCuz he one everywhere he went when it counted most...Crunch Time!!!!!!!!!!

J said...

The thing I really like about Robert Horry is that he, unlike others, didn't choke in the clutch. In fact, it seemed like the guy became calmer with more pressure.

sknyfkn said...

Body of work???.......without mr. horry would those teams had won??? Truth is....he had a bigger impact than people would admit. HOF worthy?? HELL YES!!!!

Anonymous said...

Look@this they won when he was on the team lost when he wasn't! Back2back Houston, 3peat la, n was off the team between SA titles! Bottom line hardware, he has seven rings n contributed to each one. Major contributions, almost to the point his teams would've lost had he not been on the team.

Anonymous said...

Of course he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. barkeley...what a joke..Robert hit the shots when they were needed...nobody else in the league history has done better in that aspect!!

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing, Nate Dogg definitely is one of the best of his genre. Take him out of those hits and those songs are not hits. He may have featured on peoples songs more than his own but him featuring made many of the songs hits and not the other way around. Plus his solo music is phenomenal even if it wasn't on the radio.

As for Robert Horry I think he should get in and that the sheer amount of clutch game winning shots is why. I think of the Hall as the greatest players yes but also the ones that are most memorable and I will never forget all the different times I watched him win huge games. He may have been a role player but his role was to make the most important shot of the game and he was the best at that role. Manu Ginobli deserves the hall too because he is the best 6th man ever even though he didn't start much of his career.

Mr. Fixit said...

Robert Horry was a very good player and one of the best power / small forwards in the league with the Rockets. His clutch shooting in the playoffs is unmatched, even by MJ23, and it wasn't just single shots. I'm a pistons fan and if not for Mr. Horry we would have won back to back championships in 04 and 05 if not for his other worldly performance mentioned above. He drove the lane and superman dunked on Ben Wallace DPOY and Rasheed Wallace. Was absolutely electrifying. If I had a vote he would be in as arguably the best role player ever. (I love pairing him with Hakeem on NBA jam!)

Anonymous said...

people also forget how awesome he was on defense,, he held some big names in check when he was with the rockets.. I def think he deserves to be hof because he was a major contributor in each 1 of his 7 championships.

Kwame Brown said...

robert horry is definitely hall of fame worthy

Allen Edwards said...

How many times has"Big Shot Bob" been All NBA ? How many All Defensive teams ? Scoring titles ? Are there ANY prestigeous accolades ? No. Not one . I don't believe he's ever even been an All Star. He's never led any team he'sbeen on in ANY category . The hall of fame is and should be reserved for the players that were a constant focal point for defences across the league . No team has ever held a practice specifically to come up with ways to stop or slow down Horry . It was'nt needed . He was not the reason those teams won . Good role player . Hall of famer ? That's ridiculous .

Anonymous said...

Yes. Ralph Sampson is in and he did next to nothing.