The Boston Celtics already had a former star player from last year’s team come back to play, well not entirely play or even show up, in front of the hometown crowd at TD Garden.
The reception should be much different for Al Horford, who signed a four-year, $109 million deal with Philadelphia this offseason, when he makes his first return back to Boston as a member of the 76ers in an anticipated matchup of Eastern Conference rivals Thursday night (8 p.m.).
Horford, who seemingly was always lauded as a consummate professional during his three seasons in Boston, has the respect of Jaylen Brown even though the two are no longer teammates.
“I think he should be celebrated, that’s my opinion,” said Brown on what type of ovation Horford should get. “Boston fans, they’re going to do what they want regardless, but Al came here and contributed, took this team farthest it’s been since ‘08. I think Al served his time well here. For me, he was a great leader, a great person to carry us every step of the way, so I know I’ll clap for him when they call his name.”
In Hoford’s tenure as a Celtic, the 6-foot-9 veteran big man averaged 13.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. During the 2017-18 season, Horford was an All-Star for the Celtics and was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. He also was a critical piece in helping the C’s advance to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals that season.
While Brown will give Horford the praise he deserves, like many should, for his contributions during his time in Boston, Brown will have a different attitude when the whistle is blown and he goes face-to-face with his former teammate on the court.
“Every time I see Al, that’s my guy, so I’m looking forward to it,” Brown said. “Say hello to him before the game, but while we’re on the court, don’t talk to him.”