Celts fans came to lose patience at times with rookie Al Horford for his excessive bravado during the first round series with the Hawks. But there's no doubt that many also increased their respect for the neophyte's game and his bruising style.
He's only earning further respect for his character with his decision on how to spend the summer after his rookie year.
As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Steve Hummer:
Horford could be lounging on a beach in his native Dominican Republic. He could be picking up easy money on the show-up-and-look-tall appearance circuit. Or taking advantage of a hundred other luxuries open to an emerging star.
Instead, he's back at the university where he won consecutive national titles, doing the humble student thing, putting on his backpack one arm at a time just like the rest of them.
Players of his pedigree don't leave college early only to rush back to class their first offseason, do they? With millions of dollars secured, with a long basketball future seemingly ahead, who needs a degree, right?
"Doesn't surprise me that he's here," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "He's gifted and grounded, about as good a kid as I've been around. He's the type of kid that this is going to be important to him."
"He's not messing around. He's a good student and a real part of the class," said Annie Sugar, who's teaching the Television and American Society course. Horford said he carried a 3.3 GPA into the summer session.
I didn't like Al Horford for two weeks in late April, but beyond that, it's hard not to root for this kid.
He did some grandstanding against the Celtics, but Horford has long since established a reputation of being a solid all-around dude who plays the game hard and treats those around him with respect. He's a goal-oriented youngster, and it's good to see that he cares about his long-term future as well as his impending stardom in this league.
Best of luck to the young man.