Robert Horry is truly one of the most celebrated role players in NBA history.

The retired 6-foot-9 forward, after all, won a total of 7 Larry O’Brien trophies with three different franchises. Horry also never missed the postseason throughout his entire 16-year career.

To be clear, Horry was never considered a superstar and he didn’t even make the All-Star team once.

His highest output was meager averages of 12.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists with the Houston Rockets in the 1995-96 season, while he had career averages of 7.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.0 steal per game.

The former Alabama Crimson Tide was a career 34.1 percent shooter from distance and had a knack for hitting clutch 3-pointers in the grandest stage, which earned him the nickname “Big Shot Bob”.

While it seems that Robert Horry is beloved everywhere he went, he is still considered persona non grata in the Valley of the Sun even to this day. It’s not just because of that boorish hip-check that Horry delivered to crowd darling Steve Nash in Game 4 of the 2007 Western Conference Semifinals (more on this later).

Fans have fond memories of Horry with the Rockets, Lakers, and Spurs, but no a lot of people can recall his forgotten stint with the Phoenix Suns in the 1996-97 season.

The “towel gate” incident

After winning two titles with the Rockets in ’94 and ’95, Robert Horry arrived to the Suns’ fold along with Sam Cassell, Chucky Brown, and Mark Bryant in exchange for former MVP Charles Barkley.

Criticized for being gun-shy in his later years in H-Town, pundits thought Horry’s change of scenery and (possibly a bigger role) would pay dividends for the Suns.

Sadly, that was not the case at all as Horry’s Phoenix career got off to a horrible start, while the team also fared badly with a dreadful 1-13 slate.

The team decided to part ways with then-head coach Cotton Fitzsimmons and tapped their former player Danny Ainge as a replacement. Ainge tried shuffling Horry’s time as a starter and a reserve, but he just couldn’t find his niche in the rotation for some reason.

Tempers reached its boiling following yet another ill-fated loss at hands of the Boston Celtics. Ainge, a fiery competitor himself, couldn’t help but utter some words in disgust of another lackluster showing from Horry as he came back to the bench.

After exchanging some unpleasantries, Horry towered over his coach and reached for the towel slung loosely on his neck. He violently flung it towards the direction of Ainge, hitting his head coach directly on the face.

The hard whiplash sent the two-time champion falling limply to the floor as Horry turned his back to the scene of the crime. While previous reports claimed that it was some rowdy fans in attendance who were the culprits, the Suns bench clearly saw what transpired that night.

Horry soon faced suspension and the Phoenix brass reacted quickly by putting him available on the trade market. They shipped him to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Cedric Ceballos.

The deal actually worked well for both sides, as Horry was a big part of the Lakers’ three-peat from 2000-02, while Ceballos returned to his high-scoring ways in his second stint in Arizona.

Horry’s Phoenix tenure lasted for just 32 games where he notched putrid numbers of 6.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.

Cheap shot on Nash

Ten years removed from that ugly towel incident, Robert Horry once again didn’t do himself any favors by hurting another member of the Suns organization.

Horry was playing spot minutes for head coach Gregg Popovich in the 2007 playoffs when the San Antonio Spurs took on their West rivals Suns in the semis.

The first four games of the series was truly a back-and-forth affair, as both squads split victories. The Suns emerged victorious in Game 4, but was marred by one incident that turned the entire series around.

With the Suns on their way to a W with under 20 seconds left in regulation, Horry bull-rushed Nash as the latter was trying to get the ball to half-court. The impact was so hard that the two-time MVP came crashing through the barrier of the scorer’s table.

A brief commotion occurred, as Suns guard Raja Bell quickly got into the face of Horry, while Suns forwards Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw left the bench to come to Nash’s aid.

Nash came out unscathed after that huge blow, but the ramifications of Horry’s cheap shot grew deeper than that.

Horry understandably received a two-game suspension for the flagrant foul but the league also decided to warrant a one-game ban for Stoudemire and Diaz for leaving the bench. The undermanned Suns went on to lose the crucial Game 5. While Stoudemire and Diaw returned for Game 6, Phoenix still came out on the losing end and had their championship aspirations slip away.