For a team to win a championship, they must need contributions from everyone. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, and others didn’t play one-on-five during their runs. Championships are won and lost by the quiet guys in the corner of the locker room. It doesn’t matter how many superstars they play alongside, the real unsung heroes for championship-winning teams are the role players. Guys like Robert Horry and Danny Green.
Think back to the Lakers’ dynasty of the 2000s. There was Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal but what about the clutch shooting of Derek Fisher and Horry? Horry is one of those guys whose name vanishes when discussing championships. He’s played and won with Kobe and Shaq, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Tim Duncan. Horry is not called “Big Shot Bob” for no reason.
In today’s generation, players switch teams as much as toddlers change bibs and still find ways to raise banners. One, in particular, Danny Green. Over the course of his career, he’s been paired with LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and now back to James and Anthony Davis. How many future Hall of Famers are on that list?
Green is not an All-Star. Probably will never make one but he’s consistent and he’s valuable. His defense is stifling on the perimeter. He can see the floor like a PG but his key asset is his ability to take and make the big shot when needed. Those are the same traits that made Horry so loved by his teammates and hated by his opponents.
Comparing Green to Horry may appear to be a slap in the face to some fans but trust me its not. This is the age where individual stats are more important than rings. Where All-Star selections are deemed more valuable than playoff appearances. For players like Green and Horry, all they want to do is win by any means necessary.
For his career, Green has averaged 10.3 points, 1.6 assists, and 4.0 rebounds while shooting .465 percent from the floor. Not eye-catching numbers but just enough to be on the floor with the game on the line. Horry was the same way. And for that, that’s exactly what the new-look Lakers are banking on. Horry, in his 17-year career carved out the same niche with averages of 7.0 points, 2.1 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. For these guys, it’s not about the end of the game stat line. For them, it’s being in the right position to hit a clutch shot or put the defensive stop on their opponent when called upon. That’s how they have made their bones in the NBA.
When free agency hit this offseason, Green’s name was mentioned with teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Golden State Warriors. There was no mention of the Phoenix Suns, Charlotte Hornets or New York Knicks. Green has only known winning. He’s a defensive stopper, clutch shooter, and the kind of vet needed to help a team reach the next level.
Horry was no different. His name wasn’t as big as his super teammates, but he was just as important. Think back to the Cavs’ 61-win season, a quick glance at the roster and you’ll see Green’s name.
From there, it was off to San Antonio to chase rings with Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Kawhi Leonard. During his time with the Spurs, Green managed to average 9.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. The best part is, he was a member of a team that advanced to two NBA finals, winning one. While Kawhi leaving the Spurs became a hot topic, throwing Green into the talk proved to be as vital as getting Kawhi.
Danny Green has found a new home with the Lakers which pairs him back with LeBron. Will that magic happen again? Can Green become the consistent shooter both LeBron and Davis need to help clear space on the floor? Will Lakers fans see Green the same way they did Horry? He may hit some big shots over an 82-game stretch but his name won’t be etched in Lakers’ hearts until he raises a banner in the Staples Center.
There is a big difference between seven championships and two. However, there are only two players in NBA history to have won titles with three different teams. Horry is one, John Salley is another, and if the Lakers can win this year, Green will become the third. Green still has a long way to go to match the career of Horry. But if there was one person in the NBA superstars want on the floor with them when the game is on the line, how big of a difference is Danny Green from Robert Horry? This is a question the 2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to find out.