Al Horford Relieved to Put First Celtics Matchup Behind Him
PHILADELPHIA, PA (973espn.com) — Around this time last season, nobody could've guessed that Al Horford would potentially entertain the idea of joining the Philadelphia 76ers. As the center/forward suited up for Philly's bitter rivals, the Boston Celtics, the thought of Horford rocking a Sixers uniform just seemed so far-fetched.
Fast forward to October 2019, and Horford is ringing in the new basketball season donning a Sixers uniform playing against none other than the Boston Celtics. The start of the schedule couldn't be more perfect. While the Sixers and their fans were excited about the rivalry firing back up for a new season, Horford was just excited to get this matchup out of the way early on.
As expected, the veteran big man was slightly nervous. Being that he played against the Sixers on many occasions for the last three years, Horford didn't know exactly what to expect. However, Horford did figure that the situation would be slightly awkward for himself leading up to Wednesday night, and apparently, he wasn't wrong.
A little over 24 hours before Wednesday's matchup, Horford thought about seeing his old team on the other side. He described the situation as "weird," since it is simply something he isn't used to yet. The Sixers were well-aware of the fact he felt slightly out of place beforehand. Therefore, they made Horford feel at home by giving him one of the city's highest honors before a Sixers game — ringing the bell.
"They came up to me yesterday and asked me [to ring the bell]," Horford said, following the Sixers victory on Wednesday. "I said yeah and then I got some instructions there on how to do it. It was a very cool moment. I really really enjoyed it — it was special.”
After ringing the bell, Horford then went on to help lead the Sixers to a win over his former team. Although the game was a sloppy one, Horford and his new teammates felt quite accomplished as Philly topped Boston, 107-93. Horford finished up his night with 16 points, three assists, a steal, and two total rebounds in 31 minutes on the court.
So now that Horford got the dreaded game out of the way, and finished it off with a win, has he finally shaken off the awkwardness? Not exactly. Following the matchup, Horford still seemed a bit out of sorts. Admittedly, it all still feels quite different and surreal.
"Man, it’s still very weird to me," Horford said. "It felt good to go out and get a win. It’s finally over. [I had] a lot of emotions leading up to this, so I’m happy that we came out, competed and were able to get this first win.” Now that the first Boston matchup is in the past, Horford can put the mixed emotions behind him and look towards the Detroit Pistons matchup this Saturday.