Tip-off of Thursday night’s NBA Finals will be an extra special for Boston forward Al Horford, who will be making NBA history as the first Dominican player to play in the NBA Finals.
Horford was emotional after the Boston Celtics beat the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in order to advance to the NBA Finals. However, much of that had to do with Horford advancing to the first finals in his 15-year career, which has included 149 playoff games.
However, another reason for Horford to celebrate is his history-making appearance in the NBA Finals.
“I know my family’s happy,” Horford was quoted as saying after the game. “Everybody’s happy. Everybody’s watching. The country was watching. I know everybody was there. They were sending me pictures. They were ready for this. We’re enjoying this one.”
While there were 109 international players at the start of the 2021-2022 NBA season from 39 different countries, there was only one other Dominican-born player on any roster: Indiana Pacers’ guard Chris Duarte.
However, Minnesota Timberwolves star center Karl Anthony Towns is Dominican-American and was on the 16-and-under Dominican National Team.
This type of history-making also seems to run in the Horford family since it was Al’s father, Tito Horford, who became the first Dominican player in the NBA when he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1988. Tito went on to play three seasons in the NBA but only appeared in two playoff games, a far cry from the total his son has since tallied.
It’s a nice bit of history for the long-time veteran, who has waited for this moment his entire career. But when the ref tosses up that opening jump ball on Thursday night, the big man will likely have his entire attention pulled to simply the thought of winning his first-ever title.
Of course, that would just be another history-making moment for Horford as well.