'Big Shot Bob' on Dwight Howard, Linsanity, and the glue guy of the Rockets
MANILA - Seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry, known to basketball fans worldwide as "Big Shot Bob," had a choice to visit another country as part of his duties as an ambassador of the sport for the league, but he chose to visit the Philippines again.
"People here are so appreciative of the game," said Horry, who won championships with the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the San Antonio Spurs. "You look in every corner, and there's a basketball hoop. You want to come back to where the sport of basketball is loved."
Horry, who won two titles with the Rockets in the mid-90s, is in town to help promote the pre-season game between Houston and Indiana, to be held on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
"I'm expecting a lot. I know the fans here love basketball.. They'll see some great basketball players this time, these guys are in their prime," he said.
When asked to discuss the Rockets, Horry said he expects them to be a "great defensive team," especially after three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard was acquired by the team this off-season in free agency.
"When you have a guy who can block shots like Dwight, you have (Omer) Asik on the other side who can do the same," he said. "So that team is great. They've got great perimeter defenders, they can probably get up and down and run the basketball. They've got great outside shooters."
The only thing that the Rockets lack is a deep bench, said Horry, but their first five and first two players off the bench can compete with any team in the league. "If they can stay healthy, I think they have a chance to make a homerun in the playoffs," he said.
Horry is also expecting Howard to have a bounce-back season after a largely disappointing year with Los Angeles Lakers. The big man was sent by the Orlando Magic to Los Angeles, but failed to live up expectations as he struggled with injuries and was unable to mesh with his new teammates.
"Dwight was the man back in Orlando," Horry pointed out. "I think he realized that this is the point where he can go back and establish himself again as the dominant big man. I know he didn't have the season he was hoping for last year, but he's in a new place, a new organization, a new team."
"These guys want him. They wanted him very badly," he stressed. "He can feel that love. I think he's gonna go out and try to show the people of Houston and the NBA that he still has what he had in Orlando."
Howard and James Harden will command most of the attention, but another player who will be scrutinized is Jeremy Lin. Acquired from the New York Knicks last year, Lin burst into global consciousness during a remarkable string of performances in February 2012 that has come to be known as "Linsanity." But he had a quiet first season in Houston, and Horry expects him to prove that he's not just a flash in pan.
"I think he's gonna be better," Horry said of Lin, explaining that the Harvard graduate may have tried to do too much in an effort to live up to expectations. "I think now that he's taken that pressure off himself, I think he's gonna play basketball. That's the biggest key."
But Horry also believes that the glue guy of the Houston Rockets is not Howard, or Harden, or even Lin. It's Chandler Parsons, their 24-year-old forward out of Florida.
"You can have a lot of great people in the team, but you need that one piece of the puzzle that's the glue to the team. I think Chandler Parsons is that guy," Horry said. "He's a guy who can step up any night and be that defensive guy for you."
"He's not always gonna be talked about, especially with Dwight here, Jeremy Lin and James Harden, but he's that guy, he's that glue," he added. "He's gonna have to be vocal on his own point, because those guys know what kind of game he has, what he can bring to the team."