If you need a guy to drain a clutch playoff shot, Robert Horry is the man to call. He's the only player who's Wikipedia page has an entire chapter of listing all his clutch moments, ranging from May '93 to April '07. One of the dates mentioned on the list is May 26, 2002. That day Horry drained another huge shot and explained the secret behind his cool hand.
It was Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. Horry was playing for the Lakers who were down 2-1 against the Kings. (Yep, that's the series in which the refs totally robbed the Kings so the Lakers would advance.) The Kings were up two with 11.8 seconds to go. Kobe and Shaq both missed and Vlade Divac managed to knock the ball out. It turned out to be a perfect pass for Horry at the top of the key.
Everyone watching knew this was going in. After thanking the fans for never giving up on them, Horry was asked about his magnificent shot-making. The Lakers were down 2-1, came back from a 24 point deficit and the game ball was in his hands. Did he feel any pressure?
“Me, I don't because I've been through worse in my life, with my sick daughter. Nothing like this can really pressure me, I just go out there and play the game.”
Robert Horry, post-game interview
Most of us would never even notice it. A quick 5-second answer that holds the secret to Horry's career. He was referring to Ashlyn, his first child. After she was born, Ashlyn was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called 1p36 deletion syndrome, an affliction that develops when part of the first chromosome is missing. This happened in 1994, during Horry's sophomore season - the average life expectancy for someone with 1p36 syndrome was 2 years.
For his entire career, Horry lived a played with the knowledge his daughter could pass away at any moment. Missing a shot was the least of his worries. Damian Lillard mentioned a similar thing when asked about his "Dame Time" performances. He had been through so much in life, missing a shot could never phase him.
Don't get it twisted, these guys care about every win and work their ass off to win every game. But they never lose perspective of the bigger picture, and what life is ultimately about.
Ashlyn Horry passed away at age 17, in 2011. Like her dad, she beat all the odds. Her joy and perseverance live through the Ashlyn Horry Foundation where you can learn more about how you can support kids and their families.
“It's here to raise awareness. For people to read and learn. If you want to donate, donate. If you can't, you don't have to. I'm sure you know somebody who has a child, brother, or sister who has a certain syndrome. Just let them know you understand. Just show them love.”
Robert Horry, LA Times
After Ashlyn passed away, Laker Nation and the entire NBA family gave love and support to Horry. Rob shared it meant a lot to him and his family, seeing there are so many people who care for them. They hope to spread that same love and support through the Foundation.
Big Shot Rob making his best shot, assisted by Ashlyn.