Former Florida Gators center Al Horford turned down the chance to stay with the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday, instead agreeing to a reported four-year, $113 million deal with the Boston Celtics.
In the estimation of Horford’s father, Tito, one of the things that may have worked against the Hawks and in the Celtics’ favor is the respective fan support for each team, the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reported.
“There wasn’t as much motivation for him when he saw all the empty seats (in Atlanta) when they were winning,” Tito Horford told the Globe. “He said to me, ‘Dad, when we were playing Boston, they were down 15 points and they were cheering their team like they were winning the game. They’re so into the game.’ This is special for us, especially for him.”
The Hawks won 60 games and earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference in 2014-15, and then posted a 48-win season in 2015-16, but they were swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs each season.
With Horford leaving after nine seasons in Atlanta, we can imagine when the Celtics make their first trip to Philips Arena in the 2016-17 season, Horford may receive a smattering of boos.