Robert Horry and the Art of Clutchness
Houston Rockets vs Orlando Magic (June 11, 1995-NBA Finals, Game 3)
The ball is inbounded to Hakeem Olajuwon 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 center finds a teammate behind the arc with a trademark, beautiful pass. The player receiving the ball hits a three over Horace Grant, fogging his goggles, and 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.
The Magic left him open to shoot all day. The team didn’t think he had what it took. 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 rings, 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, 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 Brian Shaw who quarterbacks a great heave to Robert Horry in the corner. Horry is all alone as Sixers’ Aaron Mckie is too late to reach the Laker jersey in the corner. Horry hoists up his third triple of the game and it hits twine and parquet. Rob breaks the back of the Sixers, and silences the fans while pumping his fists with the passion that 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 L.A. may one day result in his number 5 jersey being raised to the rafters. 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!