Horry: 'Three-pointers have totally changed the game'

Former NBA player Robert Horry expresses his misgivings about the dominance of the three-pointers.

Robert Horry playing as a forward for San Antonio Spurs.   -  AFP

In his playing days, Robert Horry was popularly known as the 'Big Shot Rob’ for his outstanding clutch shooting abilities. In high-voltage clashes in the National Basketball Association (NBA), there were times when he came up with fascinating performances to earn praises of the legendary Michael Jordan.

Now that he is done with his playing career and is a full-fledged commentator, Horry believes that the game is fast changing from his times. While he admits that there are ‘good and worse’ things about the three-point field goal, Horry admits that in a league like the NBA, it is important to settle down and play to one’s potential. By his own admission, when he came in, ‘people thought’ he is ‘over-rated’, but over the time, he went on to become one of the legends of the game.

Helping overseas players adapt

For the last few days, Horry has been in India to visit the NBA Academy India in Greater Noida earlier this week to interact with youngsters. The 48-year-old believes that the NBA should sponsor players from 'different countries’ to come with their personal team, so that they don’t feel out of place.

“Now, you are stepping into a ground where everybody will look up to you if you don’t speak English. It is the hardest thing and you feel isolated. I have always had respect for people who go to another country. It is a new world for you. You got to learn the language, you need to know the city as a whole,” Horry tells Sportstar.

Horry is in India to visit the NBA Academy India.   -  Shayan Acharya

 

“I have a lot of respect for anybody who goes cross-country to follow his dream. NBA needs to allow players to bring others (teams and family) with them. The NBA should allow a player to bring the person. It is not just that he is bringing his family, it is the NBA who (should) help him bring the family. That way, the transition (to a new city and set up) will pan out smoothly,” Horry says.

He still remembers how ‘lost’ he was when he first entered the NBA arena. “I am born in America but even then, (when I was here, I was like) what the heck am I going to do! It was a cultural shock,” he reminisces.

That’s why, he liked the way Chinese star, Yao Ming, brought his entire team with him when he moved to the NBA. “That helped him in transition. In Houston, there is a big Chinese culture. Imagine, if there was no Chinese culture, how would have that been?” Horry says, adding, “You can feel isolated at times.”

Though he knows that NBA is still taking baby steps in India, Horry believes that it is important for the players of this country to learn the basics and aim higher. “The first step is to put in a face. If you don’t about know some, then learn some. It has become a No.1 sport in so many countries and has taken over in a lot of countries. You can make a good career out of it. India has to put it out,” he says, making it clear that there cannot be any short cut to success.

“You think Stephen Curry came out of his mom’s womb and reached here? He had to work for it. That’s one of the things (I don’t like) about some youth, who want to bypass the steps and cheat the system to go to the top. There are steps and you have to take it and sacrifice. That’s the right way to do it,” Horry, who is one of the two players — the other is John Salley — to have won NBA championships with three different teams (two with the Houston Rockets, three with the Los Angeles Lakers and two with the San Antonio Spurs), says.

In an action-packed league like the NBA, breakdowns are quite common, and Horry says it is important to maintain calmness and deliver the goods for the team. He remembers how dejected he was mentally when his daughter, Ashlyn, was undergoing treatment (she later passed away in 2011) and he was away from the family. “But I would not have been able to pay the bills for my daughter had the NBA not been there,” he says.

Misgivings on three-pointers' dominance

While he sounds a bit emotional while talking about the days bygone, Horry is quite blunt on the three-pointers. The 6ft 9 star says that the three-pointers ‘have taken over the game.’

“Everybody wants to do a three pointer. I was talking to someone the other day and they all have a drive to the lane, (that’s when) he wanted do a take a step back for a three (and I was like) what are you doing and you missed it (the shot)? It (three-pointers) has changed the game for worse and for better. People look at the game (saying) 'Oh they scored 130 and they scored 102, almost a great game. It depends on how you look at it,” he says.

“The three (pointers) have totally changed the game. It has made it great (but) the guys (players) have lost mid-range game,” Horry points out.

Robert Horry won seven NBA championships in his career.   -  Getty Images

 

As a youngster, he dreamt of being a mathematics teacher, but the game of his love, has eventually changed his world. “My dream was to be a maths teacher and a coach. Now this ultimate dream has presented itself and (after) all the people said things about you, I went on to win the championship in my second year, on a team I wanted to go to (Rockets). It was dream come true for me. It (the seven championships wins) means a lot,” he says with a smile.

Ever since his visit to India, Horry has also fallen in love with kabaddi. His face lights up when asked about his love for other sports. “Since I have been here, I have fallen in love with kabaddi. I am also a huge baseball fan and I am also a big football fan and I love watching (other) sports,” he says.

From being termed as a ‘overrated’ player early in life to winning seven titles — Horry has achieved everything that a player can possibly achieve. And now, watching the game from the sidelines — as a commentator — Horry is happy to see it growing.