Robert Horry’s controversial hip check against Steve Nash in the 2007 playoffs may have changed the course of NBA history. The suspensions handed out to Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw, who went onto the court during the altercation, could have cost them the championship.
On “The Crossover” podcast, the seven-time champion revealed his thoughts behind the body check that reverberated around the NBA. Horry said:
“The hip check on Steve Nash was… You know how coaches sometimes take techs because you don’t get calls?
“That was me showing the refs, ‘Oh, you wanna call these cheap fouls for the guy who won MVP who shouldn’t have won MVP? I’m gonna show what’s gonna happen here.’ That’s why I body-checked him.”
Horry’s revelation was startling as his original version of the story, based on an interview with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles, was totally different. The former San Antonio Spurs forward previously said this via “The Knuckleheads:”
“My whole intention going into that play was getting ready to take that charge, and I didn’t get over in time. They was gonna call a foul on me anyway, so I’m just gonna [going to] brace. I’m from the ’90s. That’s how we played.”
Bracing himself for a collision is simply different from the intent of laying down a form of punishment on Steve Nash for getting favorable calls. There was also the animosity Horry felt towards Nash for supposedly robbing Kobe Bryant of the 2005-06 MVP award that made the act malicious.
The Phoenix Suns won Game 4 during that infamous altercation, but the NBA suspended Amar’e Stoudemire and Boris Diaw for Game 5 along with Horry. Without Stoudemire and Diaw, the Suns gallantly fought but lost 88-85. They also suffered defeat in Game 6 as the Tim Duncan-led Spurs took the series.
Steve Nash and company gave San Antonio all the trouble they could handle in that series. The rest of the way, the vaunted Spurs lost only one game. They beat the Utah Jazz in five games before dispatching LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in a sweep.
Until 2021, when the Suns blew a 2-0 lead against the Milwaukee Bucks, pundits believed that the 2007 team was the closest to a championship. Who knows how things could have turned out had Robert Horry not decided to bodycheck Steve Nash?
Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns lost to the San Antonio Spurs yet again the following season
After a heartbreaking exit against the San Antonio Spurs in 2007, the Phoenix Suns revamped their roster. They let go of Shawn Marion before that year’s trade deadline to acquire four-time champ, Shaquille O’Neal, from the Miami Heat.
Although the Suns were only the sixth seed in the West, no team was excited to face the trio of O’Neal, Amar’e Stoudemire and Steve Nash. When they got the Spurs as their first-round opponents, the entire city and its fan base were hoping for cold-blooded revenge.
Robert Horry, who was at the tail end of his career, was still with the Spurs and played only a total of 33 minutes in the series. San Antonio, meanwhile, still had its Big 3 of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker in 2008.
That was more than enough to torment Steve Nash and the Suns and come away with victory once again.