Apparently Robert Horry and Bobby Knight have something in common: They are not in the Charles Barkley the player fan club.
Horry was a starter on the “Clutch City” Houston championship teams of 1994 and 1995 as an ahead-of-his-time floor spacing big man knocking down threes. But just before the 1996-97 season, he was shipped out to Phoenix as part of a trade that brought Barkley to Phoenix to pair with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. That team never got past the Utah Jazz.
Horry landed on his feet — he was with the Lakers before the end of the 1997 season and won three more rings there, before picking up a couple more with the Spurs — but speaking with HuffPost Live he showed he was still a little bitter about that trade.
“Now they bring in Barkley, a guy who doesn’t like to practice, a guy who doesn’t work hard… And you would have added us to the mix so it’s two vets and two young, we would’ve had a great team. But no, they think, ‘we’re going to bring in Charles.’ But hell you just realize Charles didn’t win anything in Phoenix, he didn’t win anything in Philly. And sometimes, you know, great players don’t make a great team better.”
Ouch. So you’re saying Barkley isn’t a winner?
“No, I wouldn’t say that. I would just say he brings a different element to a team. And sometimes you have too many chefs in the kitchen — think about it, you had Clyde, you had Dream, and then you had Charles — those are three scorers, and there’s only one basketball. Most teams only have 2 good scorers… and I think he was just too much for that team.”
Horry’s point that there needs to be a fit with role players was as true then as it is proving to be in the current NBA Finals (where both teams have role players who perfectly fit what they want to accomplish). You can have too many stars who don’t fit in the system smoothly. (And in today’s NBA, too many stars makes it hard to put the right players around them to win.)
But to say Barkley didn’t work hard… that’s not the guy I saw on the court most nights.