At 38, Al Horford becomes the first Dominican with the NBA ring

Al Horford’s father, Tito Horford, is a myth for Dominicans. He became the first player from his country to reach the almighty NBA. Al Horford’s wife, Amelia Vega, is a myth for Dominicans. She was the first, and at the moment only, woman from her country to win the Miss Universe crown. Since this Monday, Al Horford has become more of a myth for Dominicans. He has become the first player from his country to win the NBA championship ring, after the Boston Celtics’ victory against the Dallas Mavericks. He has achieved it at the age of 38, in his 17th season in the American professional basketball league.

Alfred Joel Horford Reynoso, born in Puerto Plata, 2.06 meters tall, has played a more leading role in the conquest of the ring than expected. The signing of Kristaps Porziņģis has relegated him to the substitute role for most of the season, but the Latvian center’s injury for most of the season playoffs has made him a starter for most of the postseason, including the finals. He is the fifth player who has spent the most minutes on the court.

Porziņģis himself was full of praise for his teammate after this Monday’s victory: “Al is an incredible teammate, an incredible person. Everyone loves him. He is a great leader. Knowing how he’s been chasing this for so long in his career and finally getting it, and playing at a high, high level at his age, I don’t even know what words I could use to describe it. You know, everyone loves him. And he gave everything for this team. “He deserves it more than anyone,” he said.

Few have had to wait as long as the Celtics center to win the championship. He is the fourth player to win his first NBA title in his 17th season or later, joining Juwan Howard (18th season), Kevin Willis (18th season) and current Dallas head coach Jason Kidd (17th season). , who sat on the rival bench. Horford has done it with the Celtics jersey, the first team he faced in the playoffs throughout his career. He has come full circle.

“I am very grateful. I know I’ve said it before, but praise the Lord for putting me in this position. “It has been many years,” he said after the game. “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I’m going through emotions right now, but I don’t feel like I’m done. It’s an incredible feeling. Yes, the confetti, everything is happening, but I just haven’t realized it yet,” he added.

Al Horford has become this season the Latin American player who has played the most games in the NBA, with 1,078 in the regular season, surpassing the 1,057 of the Argentine Manu Ginobili, who won four titles as an outstanding substitute for Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs and Tony Parker. Horford has equaled the longevity record among Latin Americans in the NBA of the Brazilian Nenê Hilario, who played in the American professional league between 2002 and 2019. He will beat it next year.

Despite his age, he maintains great physical power and has become an important piece of the Celtics’ defense. In the postseason he has played an average of 30.2 minutes per game, in which he has averaged 9.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. His most brilliant performance of the playoffs It was in the game that marked the Celtics’ qualification for the Eastern Conference final, in which he scored 22 points with a series of 8 of 15 in field goals, including 6 of 13 attempted triples. It was a victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who had crossed his path again and again throughout his career.

Alfred Joel Horford Reynoso, born in Puerto Plata, 2.06 meters tall, is the son of former Dominican basketball player Tito Horford, who played three seasons in the NBA, but with little notable participation. Horford accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he played three seasons with the Florida Gators from 2004 to 2007, winning the university national championship in 2006 and 2007. He was selected third overall in the 2007 draft by the Atlanta Hawks, only behind Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.

Horford played nine seasons in Atlanta. The Hawks had gone eight without qualifying for the playoffs, but with the Dominican he achieved it every year. However, the furthest he went was to the Eastern Conference finals against the Cavaliers, who swept them 4-0. The Cavaliers also eliminated the Hawks the following year.

Horford signed for the Celtics who reached the Eastern Conference finals in 2017 and 2018 and lost again to the Cleveland team, led by LeBron James. This Monday he remembered what Danny Ainge told him when he was listening to offers from various teams: “You can win championships in many places, but there is nothing like winning in Boston. Nothing like winning like Celtic”. Dominicans like David Ortiz and Pedro Martínez have triumphed in the city as baseball players, but he is the first to win an NBA title, to the joy of Boston’s large Dominican colony.

After a third season in that stage with the Celtics, he spent a year with the Philadelphia 76ers and another with the Oklahoma City Thunder before returning to Boston, where this Monday was the third season of this second phase in the team. Two years ago, Horford finally managed to make his debut in an NBA final, breaking the streak of the player with the most appearances in playoffs (144 games in 14 seasons) without reaching the finals. The Celtics, however, fell to the Golden State Warriors in their title fight. Now, finally, he has the championship ring for which he has fought so hard.

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