Beat L.A. … and Boston?

CLEVELAND – The seventh championship ring will go with the rest of them inside Robert Horry's house, unceremoniously dropped into a bathroom drawer.

"That way, they can all stay together," he said Wednesday.

Horry is an authority on all things NBA championships, and Big Shot Bob had a message about his San Antonio Spurs for the great Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics teams of the 1980s.

"We would beat them," he boasted.

Horry punctuated his proclamation with a laugh, understanding there was no harm stirring it up with San Antonio on the brink of sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals. Horry has had his moments in this series, including five blocked shots in Game 2. He isn't sure if he'll be back for a 16th season, but if he does, he'll return to a Spurs team that'll be the favorite to be the first to repeat champion since Horry's Shaq-Kobe Lakers won three straight titles.

"No disrespect to the guys back in the 80's and the 70's, but the guys now are so much better than those guys," Horry said. "I don't care what they say. If you look at old films, guys only went right. They turned and kept it in their right hand. Look at the things LeBron (James) can do, Tim (Duncan) can do, Tony (Parker) can do, Manu (Ginobili) can do. Little (Daniel) Gibson over there. There's no way you can compare those guys. We watched what they did and expanded on that."

Horry is right about watching the games in the 60's and early 70's, when the players favored one hand and dribbled with heads down. But the 80's? When Magic played the point? Dennis Johnson? Come on, Rob. And Daniel Gibson is doing something that no one else did in the 80's? What, make a few jumpers over two weeks of his life?

Sorry, but the 80's had far more complete players. They're bigger, faster and more athletic now, but not always better. Before expansion and salary caps, the talent wasn't so spread out. You could have three and four great players on a team for years, and that's hard to do now.

Horry's old teammate with the Lakers, Derek Fisher, was in Cleveland to talk about an NBA Players Association initiative to feed one million people in Africa this summer. Yet, he had to sigh and make a concession about who truly had dominated the decade. San Antonio's four titles in nine years, the staying power of three in the past five, has sold Fisher on the Spurs.

"I hate to say it, but they're surpassing us," said Fisher, whose Jazz lost to San Antonio in the Western Conference finals. "They have become the class of the league."

Most agree that these Spurs are the best of San Antonio's four championship teams, and yet Horry doesn't believe they measure with the Lakers' 2001 title winner. "If I had to pick one team, it would be (2001) when we swept everyone except for Philly," Horry said. "That team was pretty awesome. It was like a locomotive coming through with no brakes."

Eventually, L.A. crashed. San Antonio has a selfless star in Tim Duncan who, at 31, has a chance to be the cornerstone of more championships. Parker and Ginobili understand they are complementary parts and embrace Duncan's greatness. And Horry said he never sees his Spurs teammates wearing rings. They never talk about titles, about where they fit into history. And most of all, there's never even a suggestion jealousy over the salary or stature of the superstar.

"Money hurt that (Lakers) team," Horry said. "It came down to this guy wanted this much money, that guy wanted this much money. Those two guys (Shaq and Kobe) wanted to be the top dog and forgot about the other guys. It all boiled down to money. Money is the root of all evil sometimes.

"Sometimes you can't see the forest through the trees. They didn't win that championship against Detroit (in 2004), and they said, 'OK, (Karl) Malone you're injured, bye. (Gary) Payton, you're too old, bye. Shaq, you want too much money, bye.' "