Boston Celtics

Horford reveals what winning a title in Boston would mean to him

"Coming back here, I knew I had to do whatever I had to do to help us win a championship."

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Al Horford has earned plenty of accolades earned throughout his 17-year career. As the No. 3 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the five-time All-Star has earned an All-Rookie, All-NBA, and All-Defensive honors. But the 38-year-old Boston Celtics big man now has his eyes set on the ultimate prize for the city that means so much to him -- winning a championship.

"[My career] is something that I've looked back upon," Horford told NBA TV's Jared Greenberg before Game 4 of the 2024 NBA Finals on Friday. "Just everything I've had to go through to get to this point, to be at this level -- I'm really grateful for that journey."

Horford started his career with the Hawks, spending nine long seasons in Atlanta before signing with the Celtics in 2016. Horford was a key piece in Boston for three seasons, with a front row seat to the emergence of Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum, before signing with the Philadelphia 76ers on a whopping four-year, $109 million deal in 2019.

The following season was anything but special for Horford, leading to the Sixers trading the Florida product to the Oklahoma City Thunder the following season. Horford played just 28 games for the Thunder in 2020-21 before Boston brought its veteran big man back, reacquiring him in exchange for Kemba Walker and two draft picks in the summer of 2021.

While Horford's role has changed over the years, his love and respect for the city of Boston and the Celtics organization has not.

"It's all about the team," Horford added of why he was willing to sacrifice and give up his larger role. "All I really, truly want to do is win. I understand the opportunity that's in front of me, and sacrificing is something that you have to do in order to get to where you want to get to."

Entering Game 4 with a 3-0 series lead over the Dallas Mavericks, Horford is just one game away from completing his ultimate goal, with a chance to do so on Friday night in Dallas.

"Coming back to Boston for me was like a second chance, and I just knew I had to make the most of it," Horford said. "I made some great progress my first three years when I was here, so coming back here I knew I had to do whatever I had to do to help us put us in a position to win a championship."

Horford is not shy of moments like these; he's played in 185 postseason games -- 15th-most all-time and second-most among active players behind only LeBron James -- and even faced the 2008 Celtics team that last brought a title to Boston as a member of the Hawks. Now with an opportunity to win it for his new home, raising Banner 18 means everything.

"[I'm] just grateful to be in this moment, this position," Horford told NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin in a 1-on-1 interview Thursday. "I understand what's ahead, and for us it's really just take this [series] a game at a time and a day at a time, and today is an opportunity for that."

With his sixth season representing Boston almost in the books, Horford has been a living example of what it means to play Celtic basketball, playing selflessly and always giving maximum effort.

Abby Chin caught up with AL Horford exclusively to discuss being one win away from the NBA title, staying present, and much more.
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