According to Al's father and former NBA player Tito Horford, the passion that Celtics fans demonstrated for their team during the 2016 playoffs series between the C's and the Atlanta Hawks ended up factoring into Horford's decision. While struggling with a lack of fan attendance at the Hawks' home games, Al took notice at the outpouring of team support from the fans at the TD Garden, even if the Celtics were down by double digits.
Horford’s father, Tito, said in a telephone interview Saturday night that his son had narrowed his choices down to the Hawks and the Celtics. As the family discussed the options, the conversation often returned to the uncommon passion of Boston’s fans.
In Atlanta, support at home games was sometimes tepid, despite the fact that the Hawks had gone 108-56 over the last two years.
"There wasn’t as much motivation for him when he saw all the empty seats when they were winning," Tito Horford said. "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."
“He just said ‘Right now, I’m excited,’ ” Tito Horford said. “He said, ‘I’m going to play for the Celtics, Dad. I don’t know who else they might get, but I’m here, and I’m hoping for the best.’ ”
While most of the credit can go to Danny Ainge, Isaiah Thomas, and the rest of the Celtics delegation who worked tirelessly to bring Horford to Boston, remember that fans can also play a role in swaying a free agent's decision-making process. Keep up the good work, Celtics Nation.