Decade’s Best: Role Player

by December 24, 2009

by Steve Brodzinski

L.A. won championships with Kobe and Shaq. San Antonio won championships with Duncan and Parker. But who was the special ingredient in all of that championship success? That would be Robert Horry. The proverbial role player, Horry wore many hats and did whatever his team needed to win. The 6-9 Horry seems like a combination of all of the great role players of all-time. If you took guards like Steve Kerr and Michael Cooper, and mixed them with Dennis Rodman and Kevin Mchale, you would have a Robert Horry mold. Horry was always willing to take the big shot, guard the star player, and mix it up inside. Lets face it, Horry was never much of a topic during the regular season. He never averaged more than 12 ppg in the regular season, and only averaged double figures three times in his 18 NBA seasons. Yet when the post season came around, you could count on some “Big Shot Bob” highlights playing on Sportscenter. And the post-season is what the NBA is all about.

In this decade alone Horry won five rings, three with the Shaq and Kobe Dynasty and two with the Spurs. The main reason Horry was so successful was because he was so efficient. His career playoff stats read 8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, and 2.4 apg, in only a little more than half of a game (28 mpg). However, beyond his efficiency was his clutch scoring. Starting in the 2001 NBA Finals with the Lakers, Horry made a game-clinching three-pointer in at least one game in four straight playoff series. His “right place at the right time” three-pointers against the Kings in 2002, and Pacers in 2003, showed that Horry was always ready to let it fly and make it count. And who could forget his 21 points in the fourth quarter and OT in the 2005 NBA Finals, when the Spurs beat the Pistons. That’s 21 points in less than two quarters against a team that was known for its defense!

So let’s not forget that Horry is no slouch. The 11th pick in the 1992 NBA draft also won two rings with the Houston Rockets, pre-2000’s. He is one of only two players all-time to win rings with three different teams, and one of three players all-time to win consecutive rings with two different teams. He passed Kareem Abdul- Jabbar as the all-time leader for career playoff games played, and is only behind Reggie Miller on the career playoff three pointers list. Most impressive could be that he holds the all-time NBA record for most three pointers in the NBA Finals, as he passed MJ to hold this honor.

Bottom line is that Robert Horry is a winner. Now I’m sure it helped that he played with three players on our top ten players of the decade list, but he also had to know how to fit in with those guys. He never needed the limelight, more shots, or more playing time. He did his thing when he got in. His toughness, hard fouls, clutch shooting, versatility, and selflessness all define what a role player should be. He was ready when the coach called his name, and that is exactly what the Lakers and Spurs of this decade needed. So whether you call him “Big Shot Bob, Rob, or Bobby” as Tim Duncan has dubbed him, you have to show respect for a guy that finally came along and showed us that all he was concerned with was helping his teams win. His pivotal role in 5 different championship rings makes Robert Horry this decade’s best role player.


For more Decade Awards, check out the archive.