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Wednesday May 25, 2011 5:40 PM

Draft Day Memories

How Robert Horry turned boos into cheers on his way to becoming Big Shot Rob

Jason Friedman

HOUSTON - The memory still burns brightly, even 19 years after the fact.

June 24, 1992. The NBA Draft is taking place in Portland, Oregon and the Rockets are on the clock with the 11th overall pick in the first round. To the surprise of many a Houston hoops fan, Harold “Baby Jordan” Miner is still available, just waiting for the Rockets to snatch him up. Dreams of his rim-rattling dunks shaking The Summit to the rafters float tantalizingly through our heads.

And then NBA Commissioner David Stern steps to the podium and utters these words: “With the 11th pick in the 1992 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets select Robert Horry from the University of Alabama.”

The TNT announcers proceed to repeatedly mispronounce his last name over the next two minutes that follow, but that’s hardly the worst part. In Houston the boos have already begun. We had stars and SportsCenter slam dunks in our eyes. We didn’t know better.

Boy, were we ever wrong.

Miner was out of the league in five years. Horry, meanwhile, only went on to enjoy one of the most unique, charmed and title-filled careers in NBA history. He broke the mold. He was long, rangy, athletic and smart. He could defend multiple positions. He could throw down monster dunks and space the floor with his smooth shooting stroke. And, of course, if you needed a big shot, well, the nickname says it all.

Big Shot Rob’s myriad memorable moments still get replayed every postseason and will for as long as the NBA exists. Seven world championships and a smorgasbord of clutch shots tend to do that for a man. And it all began right here in Houston, not coincidentally coinciding with the birth of Clutch City.

So it is with great pleasure that we start our Draft Day Memories series with a wide-ranging interview featuring tremendous insight from Horry himself, as he discusses everything from dealing with the draft night boos to the secret behind his transformation into one of the league’s most fearless crunch time shot-makers.

Among the highlights:

  • Horry’s stunned elation over being picked by the Rockets and his response to the criticism that followed
  • The pros and cons of being typecast and labeled as an NBA player
  • The story behind Hakeem Olajuwon’s motivational message after watching San Antonio’s David Robinson receive the 1995 MVP award
  • The defining moment which forever altered his mentality toward taking – and making – big shots in big moments
  • The current NBA player who reminds him the most of himself
  • The player he likes most in the upcoming NBA Draft

So check it out and take a stroll with us down memory lane as we celebrate a player who serves as a poster child for the perils of instant draft night analysis. Robert Horry wasted little time turning all those jeers into cheers. And suffice to say, nobody mispronounces his name anymore.

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