After years of proving himself on an Atlanta Hawks team incapable of getting over the hump in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics were finally able to land Al Horford through free agency back in 2016. Tonight, he plays his first game against his former team in his new home.
When the Boston Celtics first signed Al Horford, many thought their prayers were answered from the “Basketball Gods.” The team seemed to be just one All-Star caliber piece away from winning it all. Horford said one of the reasons he came to Boston in the first place was to “play alongside Isaiah Thomas.”
During Horford’s three years in Boston, the Celtics were able to advance to the playoffs each season; including a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2017-2018 season. He provided a young Boston Celtics team the presence of a veteran, and the professionalism that comes with being a professional athlete.
It wasn’t just the fans who didn’t enjoy the Celtics last season. It’s been made obvious by many of the Celtics players that last season wasn’t enjoyable, and it affected the way they played as a team. A lot of that was brought upon by Kyrie Irving, which is what ultimately drove Horford out of Boston.
There is no one in the Celtics organization that should have anything negative to say about Al Horford. If anything, we all should be thanking him and wishing him luck this season with his new team, even though it’s with the Philadelphia 76ers; a long rival of the Boston Celtics.
As a member of the Celtics, Horford was part of many battles against the 76ers. There was definitely a lot of hate and bad blood between the two teams over the last few years.
Now that Al Horford has joined forces with the rival, it makes this rivalry much more intense. Horford liked the 76ers odds of winning a championship over the Boston Celtics. How does that make everyone feel?
In a recent interview, Horford acknowledged the awkwardness Wednesday night’s opener will likely feature, the rivalry between the two teams and what the games are going to be like:
"“Its definitely going to be weird for me, different. Facing my former team, it’s as good a scenario as it can be, first game of the year. It’s not just another game, it’s a big game given the rivalry between Philly and Boston.” – via Ky Carlin of the Sixers Wire"
Big Al will forever be loved and respected in Boston. But when it comes to tonight’s game against the 76ers, it’s all business for the Boston Celtics.
I’m looking forward to seeing and feeling the atmosphere of the TD Garden for Al’s first return to the Garden. Who knows, there might even be a video tribute involved, which is always cool.