Robert Horry on hipchecking Steve Nash: “When I came into the league that was just a normal foul in the playoffs. Now, I call it a quarterback league.”

May 10, 2010 – 8:30 am by timgunter

When the NBA Playoffs roll around every April I can’t help but think of Robert Horry and all of his amazing clutch shots.  He was widely recognized as one of the premiere clutch shooters in the NBA and he was also known for his outstanding versatility, with the ability to play both forward positions as well as center.  Although he was originally thought of as a potential all-star in his youth, Horry comfortably settled into his role as a valued bench player with a flair for the dramatic.  While he made a career full of pressure shots in big games, a moment during the 2002 Western Conference Finals solidified his status as one of the most clutch shooters in NBA history.  His Los Angeles Lakers were attempting to win their third consecutive NBA championship but trailed the Sacramento Kings two games to one, coming into Game 4 in Los Angeles.  Los Angeles trailed 99-97 and had the ball with just less than twelve seconds left.  After a missed shot by Kobe Bryant and a failed putback attempt by Shaq, Vlade Divac batted the ball out to the top of the key as time was running out and the ball fell into the hands of Robert Horry, who hoisted a three-point shot that went through the net as time expired to give the Lakers a 100-99 victory.  The Lakers went on to win the series in seven games, and sweep the Nets for their third straight title, thus giving him the name ‘Big Shot Rob.’

After that season, Horry signed with the San Antonio Spurs and won two more championships with them.  His flexibility and knack for making clutch shots during the playoffs made him a key ingredient and popular player on seven NBA Championship teams with three different squads making him just one of only nine players to have won seven or more championships in the NBA, and the only one who did not play on the Celtics during the ‘60’s.  During his final two postseasons, Horry was criticized for his hard foul against Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns in ‘07 and his foul on David West of the New Orleans Hornets in ‘08, prompting some unhappy fans to call him “Cheap Shot Rob.”  In today’s game, Horry is considered a villain but he is from the old school.  Back in the day, that is just the way that NBA Playoff basketball was played.

Robert Horry joined XTRA 910 in Phoenix with Bickley and MJ to talk about what it was about pressure-packed basketball that appealed to him so much, what it was like when he was involved in a heated rivalry-series like Phoenix vs. San Antonio, and whether the Spurs are lacking a key veteran player with playoff experience and whether he thinks that is hurting them against the Suns. (Editor’s note:  The interview took place on Friday before the Suns swept the Spurs.)

On the Spurs needing a player like him on their team:

“I am glad that happened because then that lets you know that your game was appreciated.  There is a lot of things that you get credit for that comes up when you are not there and it makes you feel good as a player, but on the other end you are like ‘Damn why didn’t you guys notice that when I was here?’”

What it was about pressure-packed basketball that appealed to him so much:

“It is just so fun to go out and see that look on people’s faces when you knock down a shot in their arena and they thought they had the game won.  It is always a great feeling when you knock down a shot at home and have the crowd erupt and everybody chants your name.  It is just one of those things where you don’t put any pressure on yourself.  I tell everybody shooting a basketball becomes second nature to basketball players.  It is just like walking for people who don’t play basketball because it just comes natural.  If you don’t think about it you just press on it.  Half the time it is going to go in and half the time who knows.  You just got to go out play hard and have fun in what you do and just enjoy it.”

Whether he played possum during the regular season just to get to the playoffs towards the end of his career:

“You know what?  People say that about me but I loved the regular season.  I just hated preseason.  You need the regular season to know what guys have got in their game.  To learn their tendencies, to get your game ready.  That kind of hurt me down the stretch.  My last two years of the league they put me on the shelf and I wasn’t able to play and get my rhythm.  When the playoffs came around I didn’t have it.  I tried to explain that to Pop the last thing that you do.  I need some playing time.  I don’t want to rest yet.  My body don’t work that way.  I don’t worry about my body getting tired.  I will be alright but a lot of guys, as you can see, it worked very well in the first round.  It is not going to work very well against ya’ll at the end of the season.  I have got the Suns winning this in five.”

What it was like when he was involved in a heated rivalry-series like Phoenix vs. San Antonio:

“It is fun.  That is what you live for.  That is what you want to be in and it brings in the best in you because you have got to be on guard.  You have got to watch what you are doing especially when your teammates feel like you got a cheapshot.  Your teammates are going to help you to try to get them back.  It puts you on point.  It makes your feelings heightened and you go out and play better.  It is nothing better, I don’t fans realize this, when they boo players they love that.  They can boo them all they want.  Nine times out of ten you are going to get their best game if you boo them.  If you sit there and cheer for them, they are probably going to have a bad game.”

Whether he is surprised at how people looked at him after he hip-checked Steve Nash a few years back:

“You know from that point on I was labeled ‘Big Cheap Shot.’  If you go back and look at the history of basketball it kind of changed.  When I came into the league, that was just a normal foul in the playoffs.  Now, I call it a quarterback league.   If you hit guys now you get thrown out of the game.  It is the playoffs.  You play hard and you foul hard and make sure that people remember you so that deters them from going into the lane and going into the paint.  You can be remembered by one thing.  That is one of those things that I am infamous for is that foul on Steve Nash.  I told everybody that if it was anybody in the World other than Steve Nash, I wouldn’t be talked about right now.”

Robert Horry on XTRA 910 in Phoenix

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