Thursday, July 11, 2013

If you kerr about winning a ring, horry and get a Steve or a Robert

Do you believe in a winning charm? From about 1994 up until 2003, 4 diferent NBA franchises won rings. We know Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan led their teams to championships, but there were others who contributed heavily. There was Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Kobe Bryant and David Robinson to name a few. During this period though, two men were part of every single NBA championship team. Robert Horry & Steve Kerr. #Winning wingmen.

Robert Horry was a young forward with the Houston Rockets in 1992. He had some success in the college game, winning 3 division titles. He had game winning shots in Rockets' 1995 championship run. Hakeem the Dream Olajuwon carried them to back-to-back championships (94-95) while Michael Jordan took a break from basketball. When MJ came back, he had one Steve Kerr dude who didn't seem to miss an open 3 as a teammate for championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998. He's famous for this game-winning shot. If not for that two year break, he would have likely won 8 straight NBA championships. Boss! MJ retired in 1998.

Chicago Bulls cleaned house for reasons unknown to the regular NBA fan. Kerr ended up with the Spurs as a veteran with championship pedigree, providing some more oomph to a young Tim Duncan and old David Robinson. Steve Kerr won his fourth straight ring in 1999. Steve could have won a 5th straight ring but his previous coach Phil Jackson had walked into a tandem of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, arguably 2 of the best 4 NBA superstars. The Los Angeles Lakers also had one Robert Horry guy who had a history of hitting big shots. Phil Jackson had his 3rd 3peat (2000, 2001, 2002) after 2 similar successes with the Chicago Bulls in the previous decade. I was supporting the Sacramento Kings in that 2002 series. Robert Horry hit this huge game finishing 3. We know now that the referees botched that series for the Lakers but Horry's dagger might right all wrongs.

Steve Kerr would not go away quietly either. He came off the bench, dusted off his rust and hit 4 huge 3 pointers in the 2003 Western Conference Finals series to help the Spurs win it against the Dallas Mavericks. It was almost a foregone conclusion that the Spurs would beat the East's New Jersey Nets, which they did. Horry and Kerr had owned the NBA for 10 years. That's right. So in 2004, with Steve Kerr gone and the urge to defend their championship, the San Antonio Spurs reloaded. They enlisted the services of who else? - Robert Horry! The Spurs didn't win the championship though, thanks largely to another role player who emerged - Derek Fisher. The Horry-Kerr run had ended. Horry did renew the winning tradition with the Spurs in 2005 though and he added another ring in 2007. If you're counting, he retired with more rings (7) than Michael Jordan (6).

There's no story to write about the new Steve Kerr or Robert Horry right now. The point of it all is there are some unsung heroes and role players in every successful venture. Leadership is important, followership is critical. Without others in a team executing their roles in an effective fashion, teams can't succeed as they need to. Every part of the team must deliver. If Steve Kerr wasn't capable of making that game winning shot, Michael Jordan wouldn't pass to him. But the fact that Steve Kerr lingered, meant that the Utah Jazz couldn't converge on MJ. If class and efficiency oozes around and out of the whole team, the heads and leaders need not struggle too much. When Vlade Divac batted out that ball from under the Sacramento Kings' hoop that night in the 2002 Western Conference Finals, Shaqobe could not have wanted the ball in no one else's hands than Robert Horry. #Winning #wingman.
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