For a player who has won more championships than Kobe Bryant and every member of the Showtime Lakers, Robert Horry can be fairly choosy on which NBA title team he considers the most impressive.
Does Horry most marvel at the Lakers’ winning their third consecutive championship in 2002 partly because of his game winner in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings? Or does Horry mostly relish the Rockets’ 1995 championship team for repeating despite entering the playoffs as only a sixth seed?
Apparently neither. Among his seven NBA championships, Horry zeroed in on the Lakers’ 2001 championship squad that went 15-1 during the postseason. Then, the Lakers’ lone loss happened in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers.
“That will never be accomplished again,” Horry said in a recent interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet, where he serves as a studio analyst. You should have looked at us after we lost our first game in Philly. We were so disappointed that we couldn’t sweep everyone in the playoffs.”
All NBA teams need 16 wins to win a championship after the league stretched the first-round series from a best of five to a best of seven format. But the Lakers’ record remains unmatched. During that stretch, the Lakers averaged 103.4 points per game on 48.7 percent shooting and held opponents to 90.6 points per game on a 40.8 percent clip. Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal also combined to average 59 points, 22 rebounds and nine assists. The Lakers also had dependable role players, including Derek Fisher, Rick Fox and Horry.
Still, Horry waxed nostalgic on his game-winner against the Kings in 2002 that further cemented his reputation as “Big Shot Bob.”
“That shot kind of defined who I am as a player, being there in the clutch,” said Horry, who also won two titles with the Rockets and Spurs.
That series also defined the contentiousness between the Lakers and Kings. The Lakers won in every playoff matchup, including a first-round series in the 2000 playoffs, 2001 West semifinals and 2002 West Conference Finals. But plenty of subplots emerged that made the series heated, including former coach Phil Jackson dismissively calling Sacramento “a cow town.”
“He was trying to yell and we couldn’t hear a word he said,” Horry recalled. “So we just had to go off instincts. His greatest coaching moment is he instilled in us the knowledge of the triangle, and knowledge of being one with your teammates.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org