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Now Horry Will Give It His Best Shot With Spurs

October 01, 2003|David Wharton | Times Staff Writer

SAN ANTONIO — The black-and-silver uniform might have looked strange on him, but Robert Horry wore a familiar smile to his first day of training camp as a San Antonio Spur.

Rather than grouse about the Lakers' letting him go in the off-season, Horry listed all the reasons for appreciating his new home.

"It's good to be in Texas, be close to my family," he said. "And be in a situation to win another championship."

If anything, the 11-year veteran wondered if he needed a jolt after a disappointing 2002-03 season in which his average dipped to 6.5 points and he missed 36 of 38 three-point attempts in the playoffs.

"Sometimes as a player, when you win championships, you get kind of cocky and kind of lazy," he said. "With the Lakers not wanting me back, it made me go out and work hard to get better."

His struggles in last spring's playoffs notwithstanding, Horry is known for a characteristically sunny disposition and a knack for sinking clutch shots. He helped the Lakers to a third consecutive title by making a last-second three-pointer against the Sacramento Kings in Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference finals.

But when Gary Payton and Karl Malone came to town as free agents, he became the odd man out.

At the same time, the Spurs needed to rebuild after losing David Robinson to retirement and Stephen Jackson to free-agency. There was a sense of irony when they signed Horry to a two-year contract if only because, in previous incarnations as a Laker and Houston Rocket, he had bedeviled them.

Already playing to the home crowd, he reminded San Antonio fans of Game 5 in last season's conference semifinals, when his three-point attempt rattled around the rim and popped out. The Spurs held on to win, clinching the series a few days later.

"They got the last laugh," he said. "My last shot was a clanker."

Horry did not exactly praise his old team for assembling a virtual Hall of Fame lineup.

"Even though the Lakers did get Gary and Karl, and they're great players, there's only one basketball and you have to have a team," he said.

He suggested that switching from Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant to Tim Duncan and Tony Parker wasn't such a bad deal.

"I only care about the Spurs now," he said. "It's good to get a new life."

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