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#pounditSaturday, July 20, 2024

Al Horford reveals what Danny Ainge said that convinced him to join Celtics

Al Horford during warmups

Jan 28, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) prepares for a game against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

A message from former Boston Celtics executive Danny Ainge in 2016 still lingers with Al Horford to this day. On Monday, Horford finally understood first-hand what Ainge was talking about.

Horford and the Celtics beat the Dallas Mavericks on Monday to win the 2024 NBA Finals. The championship was Boston’s first title since 2008 and earned them their NBA-best 18th banner.

During his postgame press conference, Horford was asked about the free agency meeting he had with the Celtics in 2016. Horford, then a 4-time All-Star looking for his first nine-figure payday, had been distracted by the huge 2008 Celtics championship ring team owner Wyc Grousbeck was wearing during the meeting.

Aside from the ring, Horford said that a line from Ainge had also stuck with him that ultimately convinced him to sign with Boston.

“I’ll never forget what Danny Ainge told me in that meeting,” said Horford. “He said, ‘You can win championships in many places. But there’s nothing like winning in Boston and nothing like winning as a Celtic.’ And that stuck with me from that meeting.”

Horford had initially planned to stick with the Atlanta Hawks back in 2016. But Horford ended up signing a 4-year, $113 million deal with the Celtics before the 2016-17 season. Ainge’s words appeared to have played a huge part in Horford’s change of heart.

The Dominican has been an essential part of the team’s core throughout his six years as a member of the Celtics.

Horford had started in every game of his Celtics career before the 2023-24 season. The 38-year-old agreed to take on a bench role with the arrival of Kristaps Porzingis last offseason.

The 17-year veteran’s previous starting experience proved invaluable when Porzingis went down with an injury in the first round. Horford averaged 9.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.1 assists on 48.9% shooting across 19 postseason games (15 starts).

It took eight years — and two brief stints with the Philadelphia 76ers and Oklahoma City Thunder in between — but Horford can finally celebrate winning a championship in Boston.


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