A near-afterthought just a few years ago, Al Horford is enjoying a re-ascension to dominance, achieved by only a few players in NBA history.
While most professional ballers his age are living life after basketball, Al Horford is staying busy slam-dunking on star players in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2022 NBA playoffs — singlehandedly rewriting the narrative of his career in the process.
Classic Big Al.
A star contributor early in his career — most notably during his nine-year run with the Atlanta Hawks and then in his first run with the Boston Celtics— it was only a few years ago that Horford found himself fading into relative obscurity with the Philadelphia 76ers and as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
From All-Star to benched in only a few seasons, he has indeed seen the hills and valleys of an up-and-down career in the NBA.
But the 35-year-old big man has been hard at work as of late, reasserting himself as an impact player in a second stint with the C’s — no more evidenced than by his big night in Game 4 against the Milwaukee Bucks in which he racked up a playoff career-high 30 points, 16 of which came in the fourth quarter.
He wasn’t just dominant, he was consistently good. What more can you ask for from a player supposedly in the twilight of his career?
In 69 regular-season games this year, Horford averaged 10.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.2 blocks. While not career highs, Horford has seen improvements in his field goal percentage, rebounds, blocks, and games played since his forgotten years away from Boston.
By the Numbers
- 2021-22 Total Salary: $27,000,000
- Current Contract: 4 years, $109,000,000
- Average annual value: $27,250,000
- Seasons: 15
- Games: 786 (782 starts) and counting.
- Career Averages: 13.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 blocks in 32.2 minutes per game; shooting 51.5% from the field, 36% from three-point range, and 75.9% from the free-throw line
- Career Earnings: $239 million, No. 10 on Spotrac‘s All-Time Earning’s list for Active Players
- Career Playoffs Games: 132 (and counting)
- 5-time NBA All-Star (2010, ’11, ’15, ’16, ’18)
- Helped the Florida Gators to their second-straight NCAA national championship in 2007
- 2-time winner of the NBA’s Community Assist Award (2008, ’11)
- Finished second in voting to the then-Seattle SuperSonics’ Kevin Durant for Rookie of the Year (2008)
- Unanimously selected to the 2008 All-Rookie First Team
- Named to 2017-18 All-Defensive Second Team
And now that he’s back in Beantown, Horford has proven to be an essential leader for the surging Celtics, leading by example and spearheading a league-best defense.
There’s no obvious explanation for how Horford is making it happen at a time when most players his age have hung up their sneakers. All we know is it’s great to see Big Al back pounding his chest on the big stage and making yet another spirited run at a championship.
How far this Celtics team goes will ultimately depend on leading duo Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, but Horford is making it impossible to overlook his contributions. The former No. 3 overall pick has led all Celtics in rebounds in three of four games so far against Milwaukee.
He’ll need to continue to come up big, beginning with a potentially series-closing Game 5 on Wednesday night against Giannis and the reigning champion Bucks.