It’s hard to imagine a consummate professional like Al Horford becoming a lightning rod for controversy, but that’s exactly what has happened ever since WEEI’s Lou Merloni dubbed him “Average Al.”

The WEEI host gave the Boston Celtics center the nickname during the 2016-17 season, causing him to come under fire from Horford’s sister and countless basketball fans and pundits.

And the latest to come at Merloni over his feelings about Horford was none other than Bill Simmons. The Ringer’s CEO and diehard Celtics fan took a veiled Twitter shot at the retired MLB utility infielder on Thursday, calling the “Average Al” nickname a way for Merloni to get people to react to his show.

Merloni responded to Simmons on Thursday’s edition of “Ordway, Merloni and Fauria,” telling the popular sportswriter not to discuss him until he understands his true view of Horford.

“Bill, don’t freaking mention my name. If you’re going to tweet about me, I don’t want you to mention my name,” Merloni said, via WEEI. “You can tweet all you want. I don’t even want to see. Don’t even talk about my opinion if you don’t know what it is.

“Don’t mention my name. Have some information. Do some research. Text me, tweet me. You don’t have my number, I don’t want you to have my number, I don’t want your number. But don’t start yapping until you really know what my opinion is of Al Horford. I never said he wasn’t good.”

Horford is the definition of a fundamentally sound basketball player. While many of things he does on the court, such as defensive positioning, screens and extra passes, don’t show up in the box score, he’s been a valuable part of the C’s success since his arrival in Boston.

And that’s anything but average.

Thumbnail photo via Erik Williams/USA TODAY Sports Images