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17 years ago today, Robert Horry hit a game-winner that’s a reminder of why we’re Lakers fans

Robert Horry cemented his status as “Big Shot Bob” for Lakers fans 17 years ago today in the Western Conference Finals.

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Seventeen years ago today, do you remember where you were?

I was at home, watching Game 4 with my dad, my brother, and my uncle from Santa Cruz. Prior to that day, I could have sworn that uncle was a Lakers fan, since all of my dad’s other brothers were, but for that game, he decided to embrace his northern California loyalties and root for the Kings.

And with just a few seconds remaining in the game, my uncle’s presence was turning into a real buzzkill. It didn’t really seem plausible for the Lakers to come back from a 3-1 deficit, not against a team as good as Sacramento. Not after seeing Portland come oh-so-close to reversing a 3-1 deficit two years prior but not manage to get the job done in a road game 7. That’s the situation the Lakers were facing down 99-97.

Then Kobe missed (and appeared to get fouled), and Shaq’s tip-in was all over the place. And the ball got smacked out to three-point line, landing fortuitously in front of Robert Horry, who calmly sank the shot that saved the Lakers en route to their third consecutive title.

It’s hard to overstate how monumental this moment was, both for the Lakers and this fanbase, and for the NBA as a whole. L.A. went on to three-peat, a feat accomplished by only three franchises (though the Warriors threaten to make that four this year). The Kings haven’t gotten that close to making the finals since, while the Lakers got to become historically dominant and produce arguably the greatest reaction shot in Staples Center history.

The Horry shot has become one of those flashbulb memories for so many of us. I remember what part of the couch I was sitting on, with my brother to my left and my uncle to my right. I remember my mom coming in worried something had gone wrong. Oddly enough, she only ever did this during wins. When my brother threw a remote at the sliding door, and broke it, during the 2004 NBA Finals, no reaction.

It has been unpleasant to sit through a lot of the nonsense the Lakers have been through over the last few years. Fandom puts us through those lows, but it also gives the highs like Robert Horry getting an assist from Vlade Divac, calmly sinking a shot like he has thousands of times before, and galloping down the Staples Center court as the hero on a team with Shaq and Kobe.

Take some time to read the replies to that tweet we sent out. It’s a weird relationship we choose to engage in with the Lakers, but seventeen years ago today, they reminded us why it’s worth it.

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