Jayson Tatum is entering his sixth season in the NBA. In four of those six seasons, Al Horford has been one of his teammates on the Boston Celtics. After defeating the Denver Nuggets on November 11, Tatum praised Horford for the impact he’s had on him as a teammate from the very beginning.
“Al is for sure one of the best teammates I’ve ever had at any level. I think about being 19 and coming in my first year and him taking me under his wing from a professional standpoint. I remember the first training camp, every day after practice, he would just encourage me and ask me how I was feeling. Good days and bad days, he always seemed to check up on me,” Tatum said.
Tatum then explained why he views Horford so highly as a teammate.
“Al is like the ultimate professional, the ultimate teammate. He’s extremely selfless, always wants what’s best for the team.”
After the Celtics traded away Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Rajon Rondo from 2013 to 2014, they did not win a playoff series until Horford’s first season with the team in 2017. Now playing in his fifth season in Boston, the Celtics have won at least one playoff series every year Horford’s been on the team and have made the Eastern Conference Finals three times.
Tatum Praises Horford’s Abilities at His Age
Not only did Tatum praise Horford for his influence on the 24-year-old since coming into the NBA, but Tatum also praised Horford for still being as good as he is at 36 years old.
“For him to still be the same person, at 36 years old, to still be a starter for us this season and last season just shows how he takes care of his body every single day,” Tatum said. And even if he’s not the most vocal guy, he’s someone I’ve always learned from of how to go about things. It’s not a given you’re going to play 16 years in the league and he’s still at the top of his game.”
Tatum then gave credit to Horford for how successful the Celtics have been as a team since his return.
“No surprise that he’s playing the way he is, but he deserves a lot of credit for the success that we have this season and continue to have, and obviously last season.”
Horford is one of five players from the 2007 NBA Draft class who remain in the league. The other four bring Kevin Durant, Mike Conley Jr., Jeff Green, and Thaddeus Young.
Tatum’s Long-Time Appreciation for Horford
Tatum has openly shown how much he appreciates Horford dating back to his rookie year during the 2017-18 season. After the Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to take a 3-0 lead, Tatum interrupted Horford’s postgame interview, exclaiming, “Playoff Al, baby! Playoff Al!”
After Horford joined the Sixers for the 2019-20 season, Tatum went up for a poster dunk on Horford in their fourth regular season matchup (and lone victory) against the Sixers. When Tatum went up for the dunk, he smiled, knowing he was going to try to dunk on his then-former teammate.
Horford has experienced the most playoff success as a player with the Celtics. While Horford has made the postseason in all but one season of his career – he missed the playoffs when he played for the Oklahoma City Thunder during the 2020-21 season – he only made the Eastern Conference Finals once with the Atlanta Hawks in 2015.
In his previous four seasons with the Celtics, Horford made three Eastern Conference appearances while making his first NBA Finals appearance last season.