Some guys collect baseball cards. Other guys collect bottle caps. As for Robert Horry, he just collects rings. Some marathon runners give everything they have for the first three quarters of the race and have nothing left when the last quarter of the race comes calling. Horry takes the opposite approach, cruising through the regular season before turning on his clutch switch for the NBA Playoffs.
How you view Horry depends on which NBA team has your loyalty. If you’re a Rockets fan, you remember Robert Horry: The Athlete, a man who gave Houston the best years of his career and was instrumental in hanging the only two championship banners that grace their arena. If you’re a Suns fan, you remember Robert Horry: The Anti-Teammate, the guy that flung a towel into his coach’s face and wanted out of Phoenix before he even finished a season there. If you’re a Lakers fan, you remember Robert Horry: The Quintessential Role Player. You remember how Horry played the role of Huggy Bear to Shaq and Kobe’s Starsky and Hutch for three championship seasons. Finally, if you’re a Spurs fan, you’re going to remember Robert Horry: The Aging Legend. You’re hoping more than anything else that Horry, who already has one championship ring with San Antonio, morphs into the healthiest 44-year-old in the world because you want him in that uniform for the next eight years. If you’re a fan of any team that Horry’s hit one of his now expected clutch shots against, you try not to remember him. But you do, begrudgingly.
If the measure of a man in the NBA is determined by the number of rings he has, there are only eight players of superior stature to Horry, six of whom are now NBA Basketball Hall of Famers. Remarkably, each team Horry has been a part of the past 15 years have all made the NBA Playoffs. Still, he can’t do everything. He’s not going to have shoe deals and phone commercials coming out every month. He’s not going to be stacking M.V.P. and First Team All-NBA trophies on his mantle. What he is going to be doing though, is having his ring finger measured for a new addition, come June. The man just likes rings.
Horry is like your favorite sweater: For most of the year, that sweater sits tucked away in your drawer, waiting to be called upon. Then, it starts to get a little chilly outside and your go-to sweater becomes your best friend. You actually find yourself eating slower at the Christmas dinner table because you know that if any gravy comes crashing down on your sweater, it’s out of commission for at least a few days. Well, for the six months that NBA fans know as the regular season, Horry plays the role of the Invisible Man. But when the NBA Playoffs begin, he morphs into that guy the opposing coach is telling his players to know where he is on the floor at all times. Not Tim Duncan. Not Tony Parker – the guy they call Big Shot.
If you’re looking for a reason to respect Horry’s basketball ability, I can’t give you just one. But, I can give you six – maybe seven after this year’s NBA Champion is crowned.