Al Horford In Unique Spot With Celtics Interim Coach Joe Mazzulla

Horford is entering his 16th season in the NBA


September 27

CANTON, Mass. — Al Horford is the clear elder statesman of the Boston Celtics. Besides for Danilo Gallinari, who is sidelined due to an ACL injury, Horford, at age 36, is the only player on the Celtics roster in his 30s.

And with the Celtics appointing 34-year-old Joe Mazzulla as interim head coach in wake of the scandal involving Ime Udoka, Horford is older than the person calling the shots from Boston’s sideline this season.

But the veteran big man pointed out Monday at Celtics media day why that isn’t such a bad thing from his perspective.

“There’s really nothing there,” Horford said. “To me, it’s actually pretty cool because I’ve been in the league that long and I’m still in the league and I feel like going strong. It’s pretty cool.”

Horford being older doesn’t appear to influence his opinion of Mazzulla, who has been on the Celtics coaching staff the last three seasons and had an obvious non-traditional rise to his first NBA head coaching job.

“As far as Joe goes, excited for him, excited for this opportunity,” Horford said. “He’s somebody that we all respect, and I think we’re going to be rallying behind him.”

Horford’s longevity in the NBA is quite impressive. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft is entering his 16th season in the league. It seemed like Horford was at the end of his career after his first stint in Boston concluded with the 6-foot-9, 240-pounder having back-to-back subpar seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers and Oklahoma City Thunder.

But Horford looked rejuvenated in his return to Boston, especially during the Celtics run to the NBA Finals last season. Horford nearly averaged a double-double in the playoffs, posting 12 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in 35.4 minutes while also averaging 3.3 assists. He also shot a ridiculous 48% from 3-point land and provided highlight-reel moments, like when he blew by Giannis Antetokounmpo and threw down an emphatic dunk in the East Conference semifinals.

Despite the five-time All-Star’s longstanding in the league, last season was Horford’s first trip to the Finals. And after getting a taste of what it was like, he’s aiming for the Celtics to get back there this season.

“A lot of motivation to be able to get back to that position,” Horford said. “But we also look back and I see how hard it is to get to that point and to understand that we have to start back up and build that up.”

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