Robert Horry had the benefit of playing with many great players and teams over a career that saw him claim seven rings with three different teams. He played alongside Hakeem Olajuwon with the Houston Rockets, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili in San Antonio, and Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles.
So, Horry saw firsthand what Kobe was capable of doing during his peak years in the early 2000s. Bean was one of the most dominant perimeter players of his era and eventually won five titles. He’s scored more points than anyone not named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and he’ll be inducted into Springfield in his first year of eligibility. But if given the choice, Horry still says he would choose 2016 Steph Curry over prime Kobe, at least on the offensive side of the ball.
Horry was a guest on Sirius XM NBA Radio, and when Justin Termine asked him who was the biggest offensive threat since Jordan, Horry pointed to Curry’s three-point shooting as the primary reason he would go with the reigning league MVP over the Black Mamba.
“Kobe in his prime really wasn’t that great of a three-point shooter. He was a drive, get-to-the-hole, dunk-on-you type of guy. Steph can drive and float you. He can shoot it from half court. You have to guard him at all times. You know with Kobe, back in like 2009, 2008 you could say Kobe was in his prime then but his three-point game, had nothing on Steph’s game. I think Steph is just, right now, he’s playing out of his mind. And the thing about it is, he’s averaging thirty points on a great team. Not a good team, a great team. So I would have to go with Steph.”
It’s certainly an interesting argument.
In the mind of Horry, Curry’s three-point efficiency and volume vaults him past Kobe, but you could easily make the argument the other way: Curry’s ability to get to the rim doesn’t equal Bryant’s high-flying athleticism and finishing ability in the air; although, Steph’s dribble drives are still a part of his game.
Silver Screen and Roll broke down Curry’s numbers this season with Kobe’s most impressive statistical season in 2005-06, when he averaged more than 35 points per game (the highest since MJ). While the numbers on a per-36 minute basis give Steph a slight advantage, Kobe had to play with a significantly less-talented team, so opponents could gang up on Kobe.
While there are cases to be made for each player’s offensive bonafides, it’s hard to compare two different types of players who played at — or close to, in Steph’s case — their peak in separate eras.
Let’s just add LeBron in there and we’ll call it a three-way-tie for bar room discussion over the next 20 years.