Monday, July 28, 2008

Express News: Let’s count ways we’ll miss Horry
Let’s count ways we’ll miss Horry
Richard Oliver: Oliver's Twist

I’ll miss Robert Horry.

Not because he’s a great quote, though he is. Not because he’s had his heroic moments, though he has. Not because he treats the common fan with a modicum of respect, though he does.

No, I’ll miss Horry because when the going gets tough, he goes and gets nasty. And the Spurs need that.

The headline example, of course, is the notorious moment two seasons ago when the warhorse forward hip-checked Phoenix guard Steve Nash, causing the Canadian to animatedly flop into the AT&T Center scorer’s table as if downed by a sniper.

Another might be the crunching pick set on New Orleans’ David West and his sore back last year, a forearms-to-the-kidneys move described by one blogger as “cunning and cold-hearted.” West went down in a writhing heap, and our man Horry strolled away with the casual ease of a man checking his petunias.

Those were telling moments, to be sure, but another from last year’s postseason was arguably the most hard-hitting argument for keeping Horry on site.

In a blowout loss at Phoenix, the Suns had several starters inexplicably on the floor while up by 24 with 3:38 left. Thus, when a ball headed out of bounds, the veteran leapt, snatched it and turned to rocket it off the leg of Amare Stoudemire.

It ensured a meaningless Spurs possession. But more importantly, it ticked off Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni. His face scrunched like a constipated Shar Pei, he groused about the play until he was tossed with a couple of minutes left.

A couple of days later, when the teams continued the series in San Antonio, Horry folded his lanky 6-foot-10 frame over one of the folding chairs on the Spurs bench before the game. Did the team notice, he was asked, that the Suns had starters still on the court late?

Horry, a smile on his face, nodded. Why then, he was asked, didn’t he aim at a more painful target on Stoudemire’s person?

“I used to pitch in baseball,” Horry replied. “I could have.”

Indeed, had the situation called for it, he would have.

And the Spurs need that.

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