On the eve of the first day of practice, Tim Walsh discusses...
Why Big Shot Bob is the Answer to Everything
Is LeBron James the “Robin,” or the “Sellout,” many angered sport fans are shouting all across the country? Is the two time MVP, eight time all-star, the one dubbed by Scottie Pippen to be, “the greatest player in NBA history,” a bust in the glimmer of these comparisons?
There is only one man who can answer these pondering’s, that being “Big Shot Bob,” otherwise known as Robert Horry, who made a living with the Rockets, Lakers, and Spurs, en route to seven rings by nailing the clutch shot.
Why does this matter? He was never a star, but he has rings galore bronzed on his swish- svelte fingers.
In today’s NBA we judge all-time greats by how many rings they’ve won and whether or not they led their teams to title town. But is this a fair assessment, considering a life-long bench guy like Horry can be carried to seven?
Never was Horry the franchise guy. In fact, as great as he seemed in closing minutes, Robert Horry never became the player we expected him to be after his timely three point shooting for Houston’s 2nd title run.
Horry’s brief stint in Phoenix after a trade in 1996, proved he was not endowed with a star motor. A hot tempered, dramatic and aloof head case, Bob languished averaging 6.9 points at a career low shooting clip: 41.8%. A trade by mid-season to the L.A. Lakers–a team filled with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Elden Campbell, and Cedric Ceballos changed the trajectory of his failing career.
So why then is Bob a champion? Why not franchise guys like Barkley, Malone, Stockton, Dominique, Ewing, or Reggie Miller?
Each of those listed above were worthy of winning gold, were they not? All of them were respective franchise pieces with the heart, skills, and late game heroics to hold the O’Brien.
The answer to their problems was Michael Jordan’s Bulls: a team of role guys surrounding the king of the sport with that IT factor needed to win it all. Something today’s critics use to gauge greatness and rank the all time elites.
So what is the issue then with the tautness of this old-time equation? Why not turn a blind eye and allow this to be the answer to everything?
Simply because it just does not add up. It does not offer enough answers. If Big Shot Bob has seven, or the likes of Jack Haley–former twelfth man for Jordan’s final three peat has three, the equation’s a bit off. We need something else, a new perspective when thinking of the greats and why and how they never hung the O’Brien.
And I believe individual luck IS the partly the answer, luck, a maddening machine random like the California Lottery. Historians prefer the term historical happenings–a notion that choices are made for no other reason except that they were made, and the dominoes re-arrange the cosmos of a world more closely inter-connected than we might wish it to be (think guy who smells like farts at the movies, or the swine flu victim winding a cough onto the back nape of the neck.)
To think Michael Jordan fell to number three in the 1984 draft could be easily overlooked for a variety of reasons: Sam Bowie, the number two pick before MJ, was a college superstar and a big man compared at the time to the greats. The Blazers already had a gifted wingman in Clyde Drexler andat the time the league was built around bigs: Kareem, Sampson and Olajuwan, Robert Parish, Patrick Ewing, and Moses Malone.
But that doesn’t make things less ludicrous. Look at how the draft shaped the NBA forever. MJ goes to an ordinary Bulls team built in perhaps the greatest city in America, where he wins ROY, ultimately five MVP’s, slam dunk contests, becomes the games biggest mogul, and wins six titles. Alongside Oprah, MJ is easily the greatest name in Chicago history and can be attributed for an economical explosion that saved the lower West side of the city once run with crime: drug abuse, gang wars, and prostitution.
Bowie, in the annals of the NBA, is known as ‘the bust.’ He never won a thing in the pros: no all star games, no shoe deals, thus injuring the once bright ideal the Blazers had in trading their franchise Center Bill Walton to Boston.
This, my friends, is the Sam Bowie, a supernatural element that cannot be ignored.
Yet like so many children born into inner city poverty without the tools necessary to change their lives, we cannot judge the stars through the a similar bias, because not all players are born lucky into a posh franchise. The gift of playing in Los Angeles or Boston does not come to everyone. Not every player is born into a showtime era, a team so deep they make the ocean look like a kids pool.
For some, seeking a new home is like divorcing an abusive wife. In order for Mitch Richmond to adorn gold, the talented and true shooting guard had to eventually break ties in the perils of Sacramento. Karl Malone found it necessary to join with Kobe and Shaq in 04′ after a long tenure in Utah. And even the humble Clyde Drexlerleft a hell of a situation in Portland to win it Houston. All three of which were great with or without (Sing it Bono) a championship.
The reality of the situation is heart breaking for most. We as childish dreamers wish our favorite player could be greater than the others, but this is not real. Embracing a pragmatic approach to the sport tied less to your heart strings will allow you to see greatness wrapped in many different packages.
Reality 1: Great players DO NOT win championships, great TEAMS win championships. The 2004 Detroit Pistons are a perfect example of this. A team of role guys without a future hall of famer, the Pistons had the momentary IT. Call it faith, hard work, purity, and any other beautiful thing you want, but to explain why they won a title over an L.A. Laker team stocked with four future hall of famers would be absurd.
Reality 2: Like the stars in the sky, NBA STARS need other STARS. Think for a moment about the teams who’ve won championships the last thirty years. All of them have one thing in common: team depth and stars surrounding stars. Magic had Kareem and Worthy; Bird–Mchale and Parish; Dr.J–Moses Malone; Isaiah–Dumars and Rodman; MJ–Pippen; Hakeem–Clyde; Shaq–Kobe and Wade; Duncan–Robinson, Parker, and Ginobili; Pierce–KG and Allen.
Reality 3: Winning titles does mean a lot, but it does not mean everything for a myriad of reasons. If the 1919 Chicago Blacksox or dirty referees like Tim Donaghy can throw World Series and playoff games, then how serious can we take this thing? Not very. Take everything with a grain of salt and learn other decided facets when it comes to judging all-time greats: MVP’s, All Star appearances, Career Totals, Game Winners, Ability to close, Athleticism, Re-defining the sport, dominance-ometer, and sociological affects.
LeBron James is not a sell out because the guy wants to win, he’s a realist. A star unselfish enough to admit that NO star including himself, can win a title completely on his own.
LeBron is stuck in the the Bill Clinton Vacuum. Though he does great things, he is brushed aside because of one unlikeable decision.
But greatness is not a grade school quiz on being friendly, it is brutal giftedness. And likeability is not the twin brother to being great.
LeBron made a decision to better his career andhis life. Leading a Cleveland Cavs team the last seven years, that never boasted anybody better than a has-been version of Antawn Jamison warrants James departure. No it does not warrant the overdone TV cinematic’s regarding “the decision,” nor the Pat Riley blowout introduction party in South Beach. Yet neither should it foster the illogical hysteria across America attempting to deny the man’s sheer dominance and greatness.
This isn’t patty cake kids. We are talking about a production entertainment, where all titles are but a decorative decor. They might help the woman look fine, but if that woman is not fine without the jewelry or the tight fitting jeans, I say run, run as fast as you can.
Drop by the nearest bar and have a scotch on me. Look through the world with freshness and at what is truly great (it is not the girl next to you.). It is the scraggly bartender able to whip up drinks faster than the average Joe.