With seven rings during his decorated NBA career, Robert Horry has experienced a level of Larry O’Brien trophy-raising that few in the league’s history can match. With seven rings across three different franchises, Horry’s “Big Shot” moniker was well-earned with his level of production on multiple different franchises.
It should also come with a certain degree of noteworthiness when Horry picks a favorite among his championships. On his recent appearance on “Road Trippin’” with Ali Clifton of Spectrum Sportsnet and retired NBA players Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, Horry was asked if he had a favorite title team, to which he picked two. The first was the 1995 Rockets, who beat a string of 55-win teams in the playoffs to earn the title. His second team?
“The next one, of course, is 16-1, the 2001 Lakers. We swept everybody.”
The Lakers needed a whopping five games to beat the Sixers in the Finals after, in fact, sweeping everybody in the lead up to that series. At least during the playoffs, it was the best version of any of the Lakers’ three-peat teams as the team flipped a switch late in the regular season 24 of their final 25 games played.
One of the biggest strengths of that team was on the defensive end, according to Horry.
“We was lucky — talking about the 2001 team — because everybody was good defenders, Fish, Kobe, Shaq. The thing about us, Shaq was determined to win a championship because we always talk about...if you don’t win two championships, that first championship don’t count. I’m just saying, this is how we view it. Think about it, if you don’t win back-to-back championships, that first one was a fluke. So, Shaq was determined not to have that first one be a fluke so when guy would come off that pick and stuff, Shaq would be like ‘Come on. I’m going to nail you.’ Also, that allowed us to press up defensively. We didn’t give up a lot of threes. We just funnelled them to Shaq so people were scared of Shaq because people knew he was going to give you the people’s elbow.”
After a 103.6 defensive rating that ranked 22nd in the league in the regular season, that number plummeted to 96.4 during the postseason, the best mark of any team and one that would have ranked first in the regular season. Early in his career, Kobe Bryant was one of the top perimeter defenders in the league with his incredible athleticism.
It was the Lakers at their best in the Phil Jackson Era with Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and the surrounding pieces working in complete harmony on both ends. Six of the team’s 16 wins came by double digits and only one win was a one-possession game, a three-point win over Sacramento in Game 1 of the second round.
It’s not the first time Horry has spoken about that team, either. Horry himself called the 2000-01 Lakers the best of the three-peat teams as well. Considering it was the only one of the three-peat teams to not need a notable comeback and Game 7 victory, it speaks to both how good that team was and how impressive the run the Lakers went on in the early 2000s.