Robert Horry played for two of the greatest coaches ever and recently discussed what set San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich apart from Phil Jackson.
It’s tough to have a better NBA career than the one Robert Horry enjoyed. Not only did he play with three of the best big men of all time in Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Hakeem Olajuwon, but he spent that time under all-time great coaches. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and former Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson helped Horry win seven titles in his career.
Playing a combined 12 seasons under the legendary coaches, Big Shot Bob got to know both coaches well on the way to having success as a part of both organizations. While Phil Jackson has a clear edge over Popovich in championships won, Pop’s ability to connect with his players has proven to be a one-of-a-kind quality.
Robert Horry gave more insight into the difference between Jackson and Popovich when he guested on Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles.
“Phil wouldn’t really talk to you,” started Horry. “[He] would just come and talk to you [about] basketball — [say] read the book that I gave to you for a Christmas present.”
On the other hand, as Spurs fans are well aware, Popovich has always taken a particular interest in his players as people first and foremost. Robert confirmed as much on the podcast.
“Pop would come and talk to you, take you to dinner, buy you a glass of wine,” said Horry. Pop would really try to get to know you.”
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When you look at how players across the league always have nothing but praise for Popovich, it’s easy to see how his human connection approach to coaching has made him so successful. Horry went on to tell of a time when Coach Pop’s kindhearted nature moved him.
“I remember when my daughter got sick and we were doing training camp, I left and went home and then I came back,” said Horry. “He was like, ‘What are you doing here? Is she out of the hospital?’ I was like ‘no.’ [He said] get out of here. I don’t want to see your face until she’s home and she’s 100%. I’m like, ‘what?’ He sent me back home."
Horry showed up in the biggest moments of his career, including the time he had a series-shifting Game 5 in the 2005 NBA Finals for the Spurs. Given that he played for guys like Rudy Tomjanovich and Phil Jackson, it’s good to hear about the lasting memories Coach Popovich was able to give him throughout his time in the Alamo City.
“I don’t think there’s a coach out there that would do that,” said Horry. “He did that before social media and before anybody would know about the things he would do.” It was just a special feeling.”