Al Horford sends heartwarming message on six-time All-Star's retirement

Oct 30, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) goes up for a shot against
Oct 30, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) goes up for a shot against / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Al Horford sounded proud to be a teammate of Blake Griffin, who recently announced his retirement from the NBA after 13 seasons, on the Boston Celtics during his final season; which turned out to be in 2022-23 despite efforts from the franchise to bring him back this past season.

Horford told NBC Sports Boston that everyone in the locker room loved having Griffin around -- and that the six-time All-Star made life on the Cs enjoyable.

“Great teammate,” Horford said (h/t NESN). “Everybody here, we love Blake. There was like a long hope that maybe he was going to be around in some way. Just a lot of good memories with him.

“The year that he was here, he made it enjoyable for me. It was fun to come into work with him every day and getting to talk to him and getting to know him with some of the things off the court and him as a person. Just a great guy. Definitely a Hall of Fame player with everything that he’s accomplished. I’ll make sure that I reach out to him. At some point we’ll celebrate. He had an unbelievable career.”

Boston Celtics went young in absence of Blake Griffin in frontcourt

Without Griffin in the frontcourt, Brad Stevens and the rest of the Celtics front office shifted younger with their acquisitions throughout the 2023-24 season.

Before the season started, Boston inked 24-year-old Neemias Queta to a two-way contract that was eventually converted to a full-time deal by the end of the regular season. At the trade deadline, the team acquired 25-year-old Xavier Tillman for a 2027 second-round pick and a 2030 second-round pick.

With Horford aging and Luke Kornet possibly in line for a contract in the offseason from the other team capable of pricing him out of Boston, Stevens and Co. set the frontcourt up with options for the future who can be cost-controlled and developed behind Kristaps Porzingis and Horford for as long as he's still playing.