The NBA is all about stars, but when it comes to winning basketball and championships, role players are just as crucial and essential in the equation. And the poster boy for that side of the league is most definitely Robert Horry, one of the biggest champions in NBA history despite being far from a star player.
Hakeem over Duncan
Even though he never made an All-Star team or came close to winning a major individual ward, Rober Horry still has seven championship rings on his resume. From his early days in Houston, prime years with the Lakers, and career-ending run in San Antonio, Horry played a role on all his championship teams and often delivered in the biggest moments.
During that time, Horry had an opportunity to play with a lot of great players like Olajuwon, Shaq, Kobe, Duncan, Ginobili, Parker, etc., and see some of the best first-hand. So naturally, Horry would compare his great teammates from time to time. But one fan base got really mad with "Big Shot Rob."
Horry once said he considers Hakeem Olajuwon ten times better than Tim Duncan, angering the whole city of San Antonio and the Spurs fan base. Robert felt the need to defend himself and explain his comments:
"The whole city of San Antonio was mad at me because they felt like I said Tim Duncan is the worst player in the world, but I did not say that. It's my personal opinion...Dream was my mentor, he took me under his wing when I first got to Houston...When I got to San Antonio, there was nothing Tim Duncan could teach me. So my love for Dream is bigger than it is for Tim. So I said, Dream is ten times better than Tim Duncan...San Antonio doesn't agree on anything. You can't say anything about Tony Parker, Ginobili, Duncan, and David Robinson."
Robert Horry, Road Trippin
The love San Antonio has for Tim Duncan is immense, and when you call someone that the majority of the NBA world considers the greatest power forward ten times worse than someone else, his fan base will let you know about it. After all, the Spurs organization is all about loyalty, and when you go after their guys like Tim, Manu, Tony, or "The Admiral," they will defend them without question, just like Horry explained.
Although Horry explained how he loves the city of San Antonio, his time with the Spurs, coach Pop, and his great teammates, he tried to emphasize the impact Hakeem had on him in his early days with the Rockets. Having a mentor of such magnitude left a profound effect on Horry, and playing Duncan in his veteran days simply could never have the same impact on Horry without any disrespect on TD's name.