Hakeem Olajuwon and Tim Duncan are two of the best big men in the history of the NBA. Both players were centerpieces of title-winning teams within the last 25 years and, given how limited that group is, it would be unwise to disparage the level of play from either legend. However, that is exactly what former NBA super role player Robert Horry did during Monday’s episode of ESPN’s The Jump.
While the conversation from a panel that included Horry, Paul Pierce and Stephen Jackson (along with host Rachel Nichols) focused heavily on comparing the mid-90’s Rockets to Michael Jordan’s Bulls, things took a detour with haste. Horry, who played with both Duncan and Olajuwon, elected to proclaim that Olajuwon was “20 times better” than Duncan.
“They had nobody that could guard Dream,” Horry proclaimed. “They had nobody that could guard Dream. I’m gonna say that twice because Dream was just that dominant. When we played San Antonio one time, Tim was killing me on the block, and Phil [Jackson] refused to double-team Tim to get the ball out of his hands. And Dream is 20 times better than Tim Duncan.”
Simply arguing that Olajuwon was superior to Duncan might be controversial, but certainly not crazy. The former Rockets anchor was a transcendent defensive player with a legendary repertoire of post moves and Olajuwon is one of the game’s greats for a reason. Still, the notion that anyone (including Jordan and LeBron James) could be “20 times better” than the greatest power forward of all-time is slightly aggressive.
On cue, Stephen Jackson (who played with Duncan) was not pleased and that led to Horry trying to justify his position.
“I played with both,” Jackson said. “I know the work ethic of both. I’ve seen it live. I’ve seen these two guys in the gym. I know what Dream brought to practice and I know what Tim brought to practice. I know Tim brought work ethic to practice, but to be a superstar you need to go to the extra level – not saying Tim’s not a superstar, but I’m saying what Dream brought to the game was amazing, and I don’t think people understand how good Olajuwon was.”
From there, Horry trailed off with a comment about Olajuwon’s “85 percent” free throw performance (he was a career 71 percent shooter) and it appeared as if he may have been scrambling a bit. Regardless, this certainly serves as an example of a former player getting carried away on live television and, well, there is no justification to a stance quite as strong as the one that Robert Horry took here.
The debate between Olajuwon’s Rockets and Jordan’s Bulls might rage on but we can all agree that Olajuwon wasn’t “20 times better” than Tim Duncan… except for maybe Robert Horry.