Al Horford is very pleased with his decision to join the Boston Celtics, even as the team failed to build the new “Big Three” in the East.
The former center of the Atlanta Hawks seemed very content with his decision. Many thought that choosing the Celtics was corollary to a bigger move (signing Kevin Durant) or a precursor to another move (trading for Jimmy Butler), but he seems all set even if the other two events didn’t happen.
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The Celtics were not exactly a free agent hotspot, but the franchise made all the right moves to get there. Young, dynamic coach-Check. Playoff team with assets to build on- Check. The Horford signing was the ceremonial acquisition that placed Boston on the free agent map.
But Atlanta was a competitive team itself, perhaps, before Horford left, still a little better than Boston. The Boston Globe quoted Al Horford’s father, Tito Horford, a former NBA player himself, with scathing comments towards Atlanta’s fans (h/t ESPN).
“There wasn’t as much motivation for him when he saw all the empty seats when they were winning,” the elder Horford narrated to the Boston Globe. “He said to me, ‘Dad, when we were playing Boston, they were down 15 points and they were cheering their team like they were winning the game. They’re so into the game.’ This is special for us, especially for him.”
That comment elicited some strong reactions, and while Tito, a 7-1 center who played in NBA arenas in the 90s knew what he was talking about, it seemed necessary for Al to patch things up with the city he played in for nine years.
In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the new Celtic refuted his dad’s comments.
“That made me really upset,” he said. “I was angry when I heard about that because I never felt that way. I’ve been here a long time. I’ve actually gotten to know a lot of our fans, a lot of our season-ticket holders with the Hawks. They’ve always been great to me. I’ve always been very content and happy with the way they’ve treated me and my family.”
He tried to explain where his dad was coming from without justifying what he said.
“Parents are sometimes a little more passionate about their sons and daughters. I can relate because I have a son now. So my dad, with him, sometimes he would come to the games and get frustration. His frustrations don’t reflect on me with the fan base.”
There was also another issue about his departure. His final decision to join the Celtics came after Dwight Howard agreed to sign with the Hawks (his hometown team). Despite the efforts of the Hawks to make a trade to clear cap space and re-sign him, Horford still walked away. It has led to the allegation that Horford does not want to play with D12.
“No, no, no. Not at all. I don’t have a problem with Dwight at all,” Horford said. “I think that he is a great player and he has a lot of ability and a lot of potential. It has nothing to do with not wanting to play with Dwight. I don’t know if you remember but there was a time when I wanted to play power forward. With a guy like him, that would have been easier. It had nothing to do with Dwight. He’s a good guy.”
There you have it. Al Horford’s decision will not be as nitpicked as Kevin Durant’s but in a similar way, it was not about disdain for their former teams, teammates and fans. It was simply a decision to find the best situation for their future.