Sunday, June 1, 2008

Off Topic: Is Robert Horry Hall of Fame Worthy?

San Antonio’s Robert Horry has a decision to make on his future. With skills declining and Horry playing a lesser role than in seasons passed, it may finally be time to unlace those sneakers and hang them up. But of course, no long career can end without debate beginning. Well, at least for those careers showing lengthy success.

If Horry does give up the game, he leaves the league with 7 championship rings, as they were gathered with the Rockets, Spurs, and Lakers. Don’t look long for his name on yearly All Star lists or among the leagues scoring leaders. Don’t bother trying to find “Horry” on any lists of first team players... NBA MVP, Finals MVP, Rookie of the year or defensive player of the year? No, no, and….NO!

Too often, the argument against great players not appearing in the Hall is that they never won a championship, so they are less worthy, and further down the list than championship winners. Well, Horry has 7 championships for his resume, and represented a critical piece to those championship puzzles, even as a role player.

When you look at the NFL, and listen to the McNair debate, he fell a yard short in the Superbowl of being Hall of Fame worthy. Does that one yard and one ring really define an entire NFL career? Marino and Kelly are in the Hall, but shadowed by other NFL quarterbacks, because they never finished a season on top, even though both had tremendous statistical careers.

Personally, I think an induction into the Hall of Fame is a reflection of individual career achievements, whereas championships reflect team success. There is a line between the two, and critics are often blinded by the bling, and opt to give less credit to greater players, while pumping up lesser players for the jewelry on their fingers.

To really bring my question to the forefront, let’s just say that both Robert Horry and Tracy McGrady are retiring tomorrow. Horry is a 7 time champion, and McGrady has never made it out of the first round of the playoffs. Is Horry more deserving than McGrady? Is he more deserving than Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and John Stockton? The championship scoreboard count is 7-0 in favor of Horry.

In my opinion, Robert Horry had a good career, but is as much Hall of Fame worthy as Steve Kerr (6 rings). My view of the Hall is a place for separating the good from the great. That induction should symbolize career consistency and dominance at his position over his career competitors. It should not reflect someone riding on the coattails of other greats and securing championships in bunches. In a building holding contents of individual career achievements, championships should be irrelevant, for the simple fact that one man doesn’t make a champion. Even Michael Jordan, in all his greatness, didn’t win a championship in every season played, because he couldn’t do it alone.

Two main components of a championship equation are coaching and teammates. Horry hit some big buckets in some big games, but was his role large enough for the Hall? Just ask yourself this, If we take Rudy Tomjanovich, Greg Popovich, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neil, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Hakeem Olajuwon out of the equation, how many titles does Robert Horry win? If you were starting a new franchise, would you build a team around Robert Horry?

Now ask yourself if he’s worthy of the Hall of Fame.

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