Blakely: Horford proves free agents aren't overlooking Celtics anymore


LAS VEGAS – There is no such thing as a participation trophy in the NBA, especially when it comes to free agency.

So the fact that the Boston Celtics made the short list of teams Kevin Durant considered before ultimately choosing to take his ridiculously, off the chain talents to Golden State means very little in the grand scheme of achieving the ultimate goal which is to land a difference-making, high-impact player.

But having said that, the Boston Celtics have every reason to feel good about what they were able to accomplish this offseason; an offseason that still has plenty of time for more deals to be made.

Durant was the runaway leader of the pack this summer in terms of free agents, while Al Horford was arguably the next-best player.

To be on the short list for both players speaks to how the image so many free agents have had of Boston is slowly changing.

No longer is Boston overlooked when free agents are trying to figure out where to play next.

“They didn’t get Durant, but getting Al at least lets you know they can sell a player, a really good player, on coming to Boston,” an agent told “And they did so with competition. It wasn’t like nobody else wanted Al. They should feel good about that get.”

But the Celtics are not a team that’s content with just feeling good about their status.

“They don’t call Boston the City of Champions for nothing" Tweeted Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, one of many pitches tossed Durant’s way by Boston professional athletes.

Ortiz is right.

This is a city of champions, a place where winning at the highest of levels around here makes you a god in the eyes of fans and the respective franchises.

But this is especially true for the Boston Celtics, a franchise whose rafters are filled with players who did more than just score and rebound . . . they won titles.

And it is that kind of win-or-go-home mindset that on many levels separates the Boston Celtics from most NBA franchises.

Of course Boston has had its share of lean times.

But even in the midst of struggles, their fan base has shown a never-ending, Teflon-tight support for them.

That’s what Al Horford is walking into, a franchise that will root incessantly for him to do well, and show absolutely no mercy when he’s struggling.

All teams have fans who care about them, but there’s a different level of passion that exists between the Celtics and their die-hard fans.

That’s why players, regardless of how long they stay in Boston, always come away with that reality.

And that’s why now that Boston is clearly trending towards becoming a power player in the East, players will continue to flock to the Celtics.

But in order for that to happen, there had to be a first to set it in motion.

That player is Al Horford.

This is the new reality for the Boston Celtics, a franchise that’s out to win over free agents and not just be a participant in the process. 

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