YOU can’t win an NBA championship without everyone playing their role. Of course, if your lucky enough to have transcendent superstars like Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan that improves your chances, but the lesser-known players in the mould of Steve Kerr and Robert Horry play an integral part in successful teams. Both Kerr and Horry went on to win multiple titles with every NBA Finals from 93-94 to 02-03 featuring at least one of them. Championships aside, it’s tough to break down which player had the better career, but I’m going to do it anyway.
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IN every one of his 16 seasons, Robert Horry made the playoffs en route to winning seven NBA titles. Kerr came close to catching him, seeing postseason action 11 times out of 15 seasons and owning a better strike rate with five NBA championships. However, when the ball got rolling the playoffs things panned out quite differently for the pair. Horry actually averaged more minutes per game in the playoffs (28.0) than he did in the regular season (24.5) for his career, while the same can’t be said for Kerr. Hilariously they both shot exactly the same clip from the field (42.6 FG%) in their combined 372 postseason appearances, but Horry takes bragging rights as the better scorer, while also playing a larger role for his teams.
NO one in the NBA has a better career shooting percentage from three than Steve Kerr. During his era, there weren’t as many deep threats residing behind the three-point line, but Kerr still excelled by wreaking havoc in the 90’s – canning 45.4% of his attempts 1599 attempts. His career PPG of 6.0 doesn’t full encapsulate how lethal he was, helping space the floor for the dominant Bulls and Spurs dynasties. Take nothing away from Robert Horry, who was a respectable shooter himself and an OG stretch big. Owning a 34.1% strike rate from three helped him play a similar role as Kerr, with the big man owning a wider range of offensive skills. Big Shot Bob averaged just 7.0 PPG from his playing days, but he attempted a lot more shots than the shorter marksman he’s going head-to-head with. Considering Kerr’s career percentage is a mark we won’t see topped anytime soon, I’m siding with him in the offensive talent debate.
Edge: Kerr (Just)
Image from history.bulls.com
FOR all the shooting prowess that Kerr brings to the table there aren’t a lot of defensive accolades to his name. At 6-3, the sharpshooter spent most of his time chasing taller guards around screen which led to him recording just 476 steals and 46 blocks from 900+ games. On the other hand, Robert Horry averaged nearly a block and a steal over 1107 matches, with his postseason averages just as impressive. The journeyman forward managed to do so while squaring off with the likes of Kevin Garnett, Karl Malone and Dirk Nowitzki on a nightly basis. Easy win for Bob here.
HORRY – 2005 NBA Finals Game 5
HOW do you pick? There is a reason that Horry is more affectionately known as ‘Big Shot Bob’. Whether it be hitting the game-winner in Game 1 of the ’95 West Finals for Houston, his game-winner in Game 4 of ’02 West Finals for the Lakers or his game-winner in Game 5 of the ’05 NBA Finals for the Spurs – Horry was as clutch as they come. While there are countless moments that stand out, his heroics in Game 5 vs. Detroit shine the brightest, with Horry scoring 21 points in the last quarter and overtime – topping things off with the game-winning bucket. It’s a constant reminder to everyone out there, guard the guy inbounding the ball.
KERR – 1997 NBA Finals Game 6
THIS one is easy. We all know the prestigious rep that Jordan has for breaking the hearts of fans across the globe, but in 1997 it was Kerr’s turn. With the score’s locked at 86 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Jordan passed the duties to Kerr to determine the result as he helped seal his second championship. Topping it all off, during the Bulls championship parade Kerr gave one the best speeches ever, solidify this bucket as the greatest moment of his career.
TWO guys defined by their clutch ability have plenty of moments that will be remembered in NBA history. Big Shot Bob has a longer resume, but both of them helped swing the result of playoff games/series in their team’s favour. Purely based on the story behind Kerr’ ’97 game-winner it’s hard to pick against him here.
Edge: Kerr (Just)
NEITHER of the pair claimed a ton of individual awards during their careers with their trophy cabinets instead decorated with a combined 12 championship rings. Horry managed to crack the All-Rookie Second team way back in 1993 as a Houston Rocket and Kerr claimed in a Three-Point shootout back in 1997. Considering there’s a section on Horry’s Wikipedia page for notable playoff clutch plays he deserves mention, but Kerr takes the advantage thanks to his NBA-best career clip from three-point land.
Edge: Kerr (Just)
VERDICT – ROBERT HORRY
BASED on per-game averages alone, there’s no denying that Horry had the better career. However, even if you ignore the numbers he claimed more titles than Kerr and was able to aid three different franchises in their quest for a title – over a longer time frame as well. Kerr was the most lethal shooter of his generation and some could say he changed the way that teams used the three-point shot – paving the way for the likes of Steph Curry, Damian Lillard and James Harden to utilise the deep ball so dangerously in the modern NBA. He is best remembered for his Bulls days and he had a few solid seasons with the Spurs but from day one until the season he retired Horry was excelling in his role to help his teams win the ultimate prize.