Horford Appreciative of C's Family-First Philosophy
WALTHAM, Mass. – Al Horford takes his responsibilities on the basketball court as seriously as anyone in the NBA, but sometimes experiencing the precious moments in life override such obligations.
Monday was one of the rare occasions in which Horford did not put basketball first. Rather than join the Boston Celtics on their trip to Miami to take on the Heat, the veteran big man stayed at home to be with his wife Amelia Vega as she gave birth to the couple’s second child – a baby girl named Alia.
“It was hard for me, but I felt like it was the right thing for me to be next to my wife,” Horford said Tuesday afternoon when he rejoined the C's at practice. “And [the team] supported me throughout, so that’s always helpful.”
Fortunately, Horford plays under a coach that preaches a family-first mentality to his players. Brad Stevens has emphasized such a philosophy on multiple occasions during his three-plus seasons with the C’s, and reiterated it Tuesday afternoon.
“I think our greatest responsibilities are as sons, husbands, fathers,” said Stevens. “I think that’s your No. 1 job. We’re thrilled for the Horfords and we’re thrilled to have Al back at practice and be ready to go tomorrow (against Detroit), but obviously family is really, really important.”
Horford greatly appreciates the value that Stevens and the Celtics organization place on family life, and the fact that they accepted his decision to miss Monday’s game without hesitation. It makes the first-year Celtic feel welcomed and respected by his new peers in Boston.
“It means a lot,” said Horford. “I’m just very happy that the Celtics really take the time and they consider us not only as players, but as people, and people that have families.”
Horford especially felt obligated to be by his wife’s side because of the sacrifices that she made for him this summer during the family’s move to Boston.
“I’m in a unique situation because this is our first year here and my wife (was) going through all the moving in the middle of the pregnancy, so (it was) just a lot going on,” said Horford. “I just felt like it was important for me to be there for her, supporting her.
“And we have a son (1-year-old Ean) as well, so it’s been a lot thrown at her these last few months and I know that it meant a lot to her for me to be there with her.”
It also meant a lot to the Horford family that Al’s teammates fully supported his abrupt decision to stay home. And the Celtics, who have been shorthanded for nearly this entire season due to injuries, did not skip a beat Monday night in Miami, as they snagged a 112-104 win.
“I was very proud with our guys, the way they responded,” said Horford, who had also missed nine games with a concussion. “I feel like in a short season already we haven’t been fully available, all of us, through [most of] the games, and it’s just impressive to see … everybody making sure they go in and put in the work and not make excuses.”
Horford is of the same mold of his hard-working teammates. He’s not one to make excuses when it comes to his profession.
The special occasion of his daughter’s birth, however, was an exception – the type of exception that fully embodies the values exhibited by the Celtics organization.