How Celtics All-Stars Shocked Al Horford at Training Camp

Getty Images Al Horford #of the Celtics poses for a photo during Media Day at High Output Studios

A lot of has changed since the last time veteran Al Horford wore a Boston Celtics uniform.

Back in 2019, when Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens was the head coach, Boston was bounced out of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Then, its star point guard Kyrie Irving jetted to Brooklyn to join the Nets and Horford agreed to a substantial offer from the Philadelphia 76ers, all before the 22-and-under tandem of  Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown bloomed into budding All-Stars.

How Celtics’ Jaylen Brown Shocked Al Horford

Horford, who’s rejoining Tatum and Brown, this season, shared a funny story about Jaylen, who he bumped into on his way to Celtics media day at the High Output Studios in Canton.

“It feels different, it definitely does,” Horford said during Celtics media day, Monday. “Jaylen and I were walking in together and he said “how many years is this for you?” and I was like ’15,’ then, I was like ‘this is your sixth year?’ Like, Jaylen’s been in the league six years and for me that really took me back. He’s a true veteran. Obviously, Jayson (Tatum) is, as well. But, yeah, they’re the guys; they are the pillars of our group and more expectations on them.

“So, the dynamic is very different than when I was here.”

Al Horford Asks to Return to Boston

Still, Horford’s excited about taking on the challenge. In fact, he’s fortunate the Oklahoma City Thunder were able to fulfill his request to return to the Celtics.

After sitting out for most of the second half of the 2020-21 regular season, Horford remained patient while spending plenty of time training for this upcoming campaign.

“It was tough. You always want to be out there and you want to play. But, what I did was, I just took that time to really focus on working on my body, making sure that I kept taking steps to be in the best position that I could,” Horford said. “One of the things with the Thunder organization, with Sam Presti and the owner Mr. Bennett, they were great with me. They knew how I felt about having a chance to play, back here.

“Nothing’s ever guaranteed but I was just very happy that they were able to work it out and bring me back here. I’m just very grateful to be here.”

After Al’s time in Philly didn’t go as planned, he was dealt to the Thunder the following year. Horford believes the time spent with both teams will serve to benefit him throughout 2021-22.

Horford: ‘I’m In a Better Place’

He’s wiser and feels rejuvenated — which is an advantage that comes with the territory after you’ve waited for an ideal situation the way Al has while heading into his 15th season in the NBA.

“That was definitely very challenging; that was tough being over there and dealing with so much change and so much stuff,” Horford said about his time with the 76ers. “But, it’s something that I don’t regret because I feel like I’m a better player because of it. I know where I am. I’m very grateful to be here and have this opportunity. The difference between 30 (years old) and 35 — the season will tell and time will tell, but — I feel really good now. I feel more prepared than I was back when I came five years ago. Obviously, I know what to expect.

“I’m very familiar and comfortable with a lot of the guys and the staff. With the city itself, I’m comfortable and familiar, as well. I personally think I’m in a better place.”


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