Robert Horry left Los Angeles as one of the most beloved Lakers of the past decade, and returned Friday as the most popular San Antonio Spur in LA history.
For all his contributions to the Lakers' three-peat -- the buzzer-beating 3-pointers, the timely defense, the selfless play -- Horry earned a place in franchise lore even if it wasn't enough to secure a place on the roster this season.
The Lakers declined Horry's US$5 million option this summer, but rewarded him instead with a short video tribute before tipoff Friday, in his first appearance at Staples Center as a Spur.
General manager Mitch Kupchak presented Horry with a framed No. 5 gold jersey at midcourt, and a handful of boos quickly were drowned out by a warm standing ovation. Horry smiled and waved and held the jersey over his head as both his former and current teammates applauded.
Jack Nicholson gave him a high-five on the way back to the bench, and a brief "Hor-ry" chant broke out.
"It's a little uncomfortable, but it's cool though," Horry said of the tribute. "It makes me feel like they're trying to tell me something [with the framed jersey] -- should I go ahead and retire or something? But it's cool. And that lets you know that sometimes they do appreciate the little things."
As he has since May, Horry insisted he understood the team's decision to let him go, made more palatable when management used the money to acquire Gary Payton and Karl Malone.
"I was cool with that," Horry said. "I'm still happy that I got a chance to play here and they're going to give me something to hang on my walls."
Horry worked out whatever awkward feelings he had about facing his old teammates a few weeks ago, when the Lakers played at San Antonio. Playing at Staples, and anticipating some negative reactions, was different, though.
"This feels all right," he said. "You kind of worry about it, but you don't. You just hope they appreciate the times that you spent here in the building, remember more the good times than the bad times."
Horry is fitting in well in San Antonio, where every player seems to take a selfless approach.
"The one thing about it is this team loves to play 'D'. And that's the one thing that I like being on this team," Horry said. "They love to play 'D' and they get mad at themselves when they let guys score points."
Among Horry's new teammates is Hedo Turkoglu, the former King's player who had his own championship hopes dashed by the Lakers for three consecutive years.
"We talked once about it, but that was it," Horry said. "Turkoglu don't talk much. Quiet guy. If I could speak Turkish, we'd probably speak a little bit more.