Atlanta fans, I know it is a tough pill to swallow. A man who seems to have changed the culture of this basketball team the past nine seasons has moved onto the Boston Celtics. A man who has been mostly everything we have asked for, and beyond. And I understand why I have seen so much negative reaction to this. It seems to be somewhat similar to a very bad break up. But at the end of the day, the Atlanta Hawks will be fine, and in my opinion, better.
The Hawks signed Dwight Howard the day before Horford bolted to Boston. Howard was signed to a 3yr/$70 million contract, but many Hawks fans viewed the move negatively. Especially Peachtree Hoops writer Brad Rowland, who has been very resistant to the move of Howard. Here is one of many tweets he has put up.
I'll have extended thoughts coming on @peachtreehoops later.
Spoiler alert: The last 2 days didn't go well for the Hawks.
— Brad Rowland (@BTRowland) July 2, 2016
I completely respect everyone’s opinion, but Brad seems to be the type of guy that watches everything on ESPN and will regurgitate what he hears. Reading the comments on the offseason, Brad has brainwashed many people into thinking the Howard move is an incredibly bad move. But not only do the SportsTalkATL writers believe it was the right move, but many NBA experts also do.
Back to the real subject in Al Horford. The three-time all star had accomplished incredible feats during his tenure with Atlanta. He showed us true passion and willpower that we will miss. Remember this two years ago in the eastern conference semifinals?
An incredible moment for the city, as Atlanta eventually moved on to the eastern conference finals, but eventually being swept by Cleveland. But that seemed to be the same old story. Getting to the playoffs, but rarely taking the right strides in order to win a championship.
Al Horford seems to be a good third option on a championship caliber team. Unfortunately for Atlanta, he mostly has been the first and second option in the past years. The fact is that Horford only had 19 rebounds in the 14′-15′ eastern conference finals against the Cavs, and his production in this year’s eastern conference final against the Cavs was a dismal 14 rebounds.
Horford’s forte was more of a regular season player than a playoff player. Horford delivered in some opportunities throughout the playoffs in his years, but there were more times than not where he played very average. What about the time in Game 6 in 2012 against the Celtics with the score 81-79 with 2.7 seconds left when Horford missed the first free throw that prevented us going to overtime? And now, he has officially bolted to that team. Feels very ironic, doesn’t it?
These thoughts have been going through my head ever since the news broke, but if Horford ended up staying, Paul Millsap would have likely been traded. And if you know basketball, you know Millsap has been a much better player, as he is a top three power forward in the NBA today. If Atlanta had to choose between the two if they both had the same contracts, I’m guessing it would easily be Millsap. Millsap will likely opt out and become a free agent next offseason when the salary cap goes even higher, and the Hawks do not want to lose Horford this offseason and Millsap in the next one. Hopefully Millsap understood the position that Atlanta was in and maybe, just maybe, end up staying after all of this.
With all of that being said, it was truly a pleasure to watch a man care about his team and city for nine seasons. Not many players are like Al Horford, but he always gave it everything he had to make this team better. No disrespect towards him at all, but he just never got us over the hump that we have been so desperately needed to get over. Fans in Atlanta seem to be fearful of change, but it all has to happen eventually, and we will adapt to a new situation. We are still one of the top teams in the east, but until someone beats Cleveland, they will always have the East’s number. But realize this Atlanta fans, losing Al Horford isn’t as bad as you think.
Thank you Al Horford for being an outstanding ambassador for the Atlanta Hawks for nine years, but pray you do not see us in the playoffs in the near future.