The Los Angeles Lakers are the only team to win five NBA championships in a row. Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant led the way, with O’Neal playing center and Bryant playing shooting guard.
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Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, both Hall of Famers, led the Los Angeles Lakers to a three-peat. Beyond the explosive pair, a number of supporting players helped LA win three consecutive championships from 2000 to 2002.
Robert Horry was one of the players.
The Big Shot During the Lakers’ championship runs, Bob made a handful of clutch shots. In his 16-year career, he has also won seven NBA titles in three different teams.
Horry, on the other hand, would not have a Laker if it hadn’t been for a night in Boston, a dispute, and a towel.
After tossing a towel at a coach he hated, Robert Horry wound himself with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Horry debuted in the NBA in 1992. The 6-foot-10 center from Alabama was a first-round selection of the Houston Rockets and averaged 10.5 points over four seasons with the team, helping them win back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995. Horry was moved to the Phoenix Suns in the transaction that brought Charles Barkley to Houston, after averaging a career-high 12.0 points in 1995-96.
Horry was, to put it bluntly, unhappy. He went from a championship club to one of the league’s weakest teams, and he was now coached by Danny Ainge.
“I didn’t like Danny Ainge, I’m not going to lie. Horry stated on his Big Shot Bob Podcast that he despised him. “One of my close friends, Mario Elie, brought the ball out in one of the playoff games – Danny Ainge was a pitcher — and struck Mario in the face with the ball on purpose.”
Horry and the 10-21 Suns went to Boston to face the Celtics for a head coach he despised. Ainge removed Horry with 7:12 remaining in regulation and the Celtics leading 89-84 after the fifth-year forward launched a crazy three-point attempt that came nothing close to falling in. Horry attacked his coach, slapping him across the face with expletives while a few players attempted to pull him away.
After a brief back-and-forth between Ainge and Horry, the enraged Sun snatched the towel from around his neck and threw it at his coach. Horry was suspended for two games and later apologized to his squad, but it was his last game with the Suns.
Horry was acquired by the Lakers in part as a result of a player who was causing them problems.
O’Neal and Bryant played their first season in Los Angeles in 1996-97. Guards Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones, as well as head coach Del Harris is a well-known figure in the, were part of the supporting cast.
So was Cedric Ceballos, a guy LA was desperate to get rid of.
Ceballos’ teammates despised him almost immediately when he arrived from Phoenix during the 1994-95 season. In his debut season in purple and gold, he scored just under 22 points per game, earning the moniker “Chise,” which is short for “Franchise.”
In the book Three Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty, former teammate Corie Blount stated, “He earned himself a moniker.” “Think about how arrogant that is. Franchise? Really? You’re a franchise player, right? All OK, buddy. You’re going to have to ride that one out…”
Ceballos was the kind of player described by Jeff Pearlman is a writer who lives in New York City, author of Three Ring Circus:
“He was your typical egomaniacal professional athlete, who was repeatedly told how wonderful, amazing, and awesome he was while, in reality, he was none of those things. The defensive zeal of Ceballos was non-existent. Once or twice a month, he would pass.”
Ceballos missed many games in 1995 after missing a team flight. He returned five days later, fresh from a water skiing vacation in Lake Havasu, according to reports.
The Lakers eventually sent Chise away for good two years after he performed a vanishing act. Three days after the notorious towel toss, Ceballos was replaced by Horry.
For the Los Angeles Lakers, Robert Horry (#5) made a number of key shots, including the game-winning shot in Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. via Getty Images, Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times
Horry moved to LA on a quest to blend in, while Ceballos maintained his selfish ways in Phoenix. For an 18-year-old Kobe Bryant, he provided three-point shooting, defense, picture-perfect screens, and leadership.
Horry’s worth was instantly apparent to Harris.
Harris told Pearlman, “He was a very nice guy.” “When you add a person to the mix, you never know what you’re going to get. Robert, on the other hand, was professional, compassionate, and just the sort of player any club desires.”
“The day he [Horry] joined the Laker organization, the franchise moved a giant step closer to a title. “He was that significant.”
The Big Shot In Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, Bob would hit his greatest shot. Horry scored the game-winning three-pointer from the top of the key as time expired, despite being down by two. The Lakers evened the series with a 100-99 victory before ultimately eliminating the Sacramento Kings.
Nobody will ever claim Horry was the most important player in the Lakers’ three-peat. After all, he only scored 6.3 points per game in seven seasons in Los Angeles. His huge shots, as well as his leadership, aided the formation of another Tinseltown dynasty.
And to think it all started with a towel.
Basketball Reference provided all statistics.
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