7 time NBA Champion Robert Horry was in action today with kids from Love in Action, an NGO in Delhi which has been working with underprivileged kids for over three years. Ride with Robert was after his day’s work here. I wasn’t actually in the car with him. That would have been something. This was the next best thing. Getting to talk to him over the phone after his day’s clinic in India. I don’t have his direct number but numbers don’t really mean much. Robert is a guy whose highest scoring average in a season was 12 points per game. His career stats read thusly:
4.8 rebounds per game.
2.1 assists per game.
If you attach importance to numbers, those don’t seem too remarkable. Robert has had a litany of clutch shots all throughout his career which earned him the moniker Big Shot Rob. If you insist on numbers, think about these numbers: 7 championship rings. More rings than he can wear on one hand. Here’s what a former teammate and fellow champion Manu Ginobili had to say about Robert Horry and how what he did on court goes beyond numbers:
“He’s a guy who makes his teammates calmer, knowing that he’s going to do something in most games, especially in the playoffs. Sometimes it’s not a big shot. Sometimes it’s just a block, a rebound, a steal or taking a charge. He always does something that’s going to help this team win.”
Its about the intangibles. You can’t always measure contribution by numbers. Points per game don’t tell you when or how the points were scored. Robert is only here for a week and change. The impact of his visit and his interactions with kids goes beyond the number of kids he meets and the number of hours he spends with them. Brief interaction with a larger than life persona can make a difference in a kid’s life.
Basketball is more than a game. It’s a life tool. Kids need direction and guidance, but they can’t be spoon-fed these things. Sports is one way to get in touch with young minds and keep them off the streets. Give them something which they can put their time in and recognize that what they are getting out of it is what they are putting in it.
That’s a fact recognized by many NGOs, the NBA and the BFI. 7 time NBA Champion Robert Horry was in action with kids from Love in Action, an NGO in Delhi, which has been doing this for three years, introducing kids to basketball and allowing them to play the game. Robert Horry is in Delhi, for the clinic with children from the NGO – Love in Action at Somerville School, Vasundra Enclave. Horry is here for the opening of NBA 3X presented by Sprite to be held on 15th and 16th September. I had a brief chat with him today. Here are the big man’s thoughts, skipping the preliminaries of me hopping like a fanboy:
Me: Hey, thanks for your time. How was your day working with the kids?
Robert Horry: “I had a great time today. Its always refreshing to work with receptive kids eager to learn the game. These clinics are about spreading the love for the game and letting the kids discover that if they put their time to something they will get something good out of it.”
Me: You’ve been with kids here in India and back in USA. Perception is that kids over there have a better shot at making it big in basketball. What do those kids do different?
Robert Horry: “It’s important for kids to learn basketball and understand it. They all start off the same, be it in India or USA. Shoot from the elbow. Dribble the ball. The ones who make it are those who apply themselves to it with proper guidance.”
Me: Some people may be concerned that these kids may be disillusioned when they cant turn pro so what’s the point of doing these drills. These clinics aren’t about that.
Robert Horry: “No, kids should play the game for the love for the game. For the joy of it. Earlier I enjoyed playing football more. I didn’t make a career out of that. Look around the world. You can put kids from all corners of the world on the court and although they may not have anything in common when they play they speak the global language of basketball. Basketball is a common unifier which brings people together. It’s about the love for the game. The NBA doesn’t do all these clinics with the end goal to make all stars. It’s about reaching out to the kids and spreading the language. India is a country with good potential for the game.”
Me: How important is it for aspiring hoopsters to read books?
Robert Horry: “It is important, but I don’t really know of any one book which would improve your game.”
Me: Why did Phil Jackson give you the book Gone Fishing? You go fishing when you lose in the playoffs.
Robert Horry: (Laughs) “Thats just something he did. Different coaches have different ways to reach out to players.”
Me: Did you see yourself coming full circle with Shaq, first playing together then hosting programmes on ESPN?
Robert Horry: “No I didn’t see that one coming. I’m not one of the regulars on that panel. I just join in come playoff time. Commentating takes a large chunk of time from your life. During my playing career I was away from my home and family for long and I want to make more time for that now.”
Me: Your foundation, does it involve conducting basketball clinics too?
Robert Horry: “No that’s more of providing support economically to those who really need it.”
Me: How has India matched your expectations of it?
Robert Horry: “I’ve traveled over many countries. I never have any pre conceived notions about a place before I go there. I like to keep an open mind and form an impression on my own. People may say India will be hot, will be cold or whatever but I don’t form an opinion before experiencing it on my own. I like what I’ve seen thus far here.”
Expect that to continue over the next few days as Robert makes his way around Delhi spreading the love for the game. Tomorrow he’ll be working at the Generation Adidas Player’s clinic with 40 lucky kids.