Al Horford is beaming with Celtic pride again.
The Boston Celtics center told reporters Thursday at his introductory press conference he’s happy he has returned to the team and the city after two years away.
The Celtics acquired Horford from the Oklahoma City Thunder last week in a blockbuster trade involving Kemba Walker, and the 35-year-old explained why he’s so thrilled.
“I’m really, really happy to be back,” Horford said, as seen in a video shared by NBC Sports Boston. “I really appreciate how special of a place that Boston is. For me, being away from it, seeing the type of city it is, what the team is all about, it’s something that I really missed.
“I obviously feel like I learned a lot. In my case, change was for the better, and I’m just very grateful to have a second opportunity to be back here and to continue to work on what I started here.”
The Celtics expect Horford to boost the team with his leadership and experience as they look to rebound from a disappointing 2020-21 campaign.
He played in just 28 games for the Thunder last season due to injuries and OKC’s desire to give younger players more minutes on the court, but he insists he feels good enough to make a far greater contribution to the Celtics next season.
It’s hard to know what to make of the new-look Celtics at this point. They reportedly will have a new head coach in Ime Udoka, a new starting point guard and any number of other changes.
However, the familiar face of Horford leading from the frontcourt and holding teammates and staff accountable behind the scenes bodes well for Boston’s prospects for improvement.