Boston Celtics center Al Horford celebrates after winning the 2024 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden in Boston on Monday.[Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports]

Gator Great Horford Wins His First NBA Title

Al Horford won his first NBA title after 17 years in the league when the Boston Celtics defeated the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

Drafted third overall out of the University of Florida in 2007 by the Atlanta Hawks, Horford, a Dominican Republic native, contributed as a starter with nine points, two steals, nine rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes Monday. Horford’s ambition came fulfilled at the age of 38, which has taken longer than most first-time NBA champions.

The Journey

Horford has been added to the list of Florida alums that have won NBA titles. He became the third former Gator to win an NBA and NCAA championship, following Corey Brewer and Marreese Speights. In 2006 and 2007, Brewer, Horford, and Joakim Noah guided the Gators to consecutive national titles.

On April 20, 2008, Horford played his first ever playoff game as a rookie with the Atlanta Hawks, taking on the 2008 NBA champion Celtics. He ranked second in NBA history for the most postseason games played without a championship going into Game 5.  If the Celtics hadn’t won the 2024 championship and become the first team in history to blow a 3-0 series lead, Horford would have surpassed Karl Malone in players who have played the most career playoff games without winning a championship.

Horford was selected by the Atlanta Hawks as the number three overall pick in the NBA Draft. He later signed with the Celtics in 2016 before signing with the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2020, he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, then in 2021, the Thunder traded him back to Boston. He has been no stranger to the NBA and will continue to be a great part of its history.

Last Seconds

The former Gator helped the Boston Celtics defeat the Dallas Mavericks 106-88 on Monday to clinch a 4-1 best-of-seven game series. The franchise now has an NBA-record of 18 championships under their belt. For Horford his journey is long and will continue on but the victory has been sweet.

At the end of this long process for Horford, he embraced his daughter, who was holding a Dominican flag. They celebrated their win and he is the first NBA champion who was born in the Dominican Republic.

His contract with the Celtics is set to expire in one year, but now with a championship trophy in hand and declining numbers, will Horford call this win the end of the road?  Time and a long off season will tell.



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