WHATEVER the sport is you can’t a 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 each with every NBA Finals from 93-94 to 02-03 featuring at least one of the duo. 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 each of his 16 seasons, Robert Horry made the playoffs en route to winning seven NBA championships. Kerr came close seeing postseason action 11 times out of 15 and owned a better strike rate than Horry with five titles. When they got to the playoffs though things panned out quite differently for the two. Horry actually averaged more minutes per game in the playoffs (28) than he did in the regular season (24.5) for his career, while the same can’t be said for Kerr.
NO one in the NBA has a better career shooting percentage from three than Steve Kerr. He was Kyle Korver before Kyle Korver existed wreaking havoc in the 90’s by canning 45.4% of his 3-point shot. Horry was a respectable shooter himself (34.1% from 3 for his career) and had a few more moves in his repertoire than Kerr. The crafty guard gets the nod here though with his lethal marksmanship reigning supreme.
Image from history.bulls.com
FOR all the shooting prowess that Kerr brings to the table there wasn’t a lot of defensive accolades coming his way. He was fine, but not in the same class as Horry. The Rockets/Lakers/Spurs forward averaged nearly a block and a steal a game in an era when he had to square off with the likes of Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki and Shaq when he wasn’t on his team. Easy one here.
HORRY – 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 that Game 5 against the Spurs when he scored 21 points in the last quarter and overtime with the game-winner on top (all at the age of 34) stands above the rest. And it’s a constant reminder to everyone out there to guard the guy inbounding the ball.
KERR – 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. He has hit plenty of big shots before, but this one is the best hands down.
TWO guys defined by their clutch ability have plenty of moments that will be remembered in NBA history. Big shot Bob has more, but both of them helped swing the result of playoff games and 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 two won a ton of awards during their careers with the exception of championship rings. Horry managed to crack the 2nd rookie team after his first season and Kerr starred in a three-point shootout back in 1997. Throughout college, Kerr did make a few All-American teams that give him the slight edge.
Edge: Kerr. Just.
VERDICT – ROBERT HORRY
IF you purely look at their numbers than there is no denying that Horry was better, but he still wins without looking at stats. He was able to contribute to seven championship teams for three different franchises over a longer time. Kerr was probably the most lethal shooter of his generation and some could say he changed the way that teams used the 3-point shot. He is best remembered for his Bulls days and he had a few good seasons with the Spurs, but from day one until the season he retired Horry was serving his role to help his teams win.