Al Horford’s father, Tito, had some parting words for Hawks fans after the free-agent center left Atlanta to sign a four-year, $113 million deal with the Celtics on Saturday.
Speaking with The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, the former Bucks center said his son didn’t enjoy looking at an empty arena when the team was playing well.
“There wasn’t as much motivation for him when he saw all the empty seats when they were winning,” Tito Horford said. “He said to me, ‘Dad, when we were playing Boston, they were down 15 points and they were cheering their team like they were winning the game. They’re so into the game.’ This is special for us, especially for him.
“Ever since Boston, Danny Ainge and the whole organization began to show interest in him, that opened his eyes. He always had a good feel about Boston.”
Atlanta ranked 23rd in the league with an 89.9 attendance rate last year at home games, while the Celtics were in 15th, selling out 98.1% of the TD Garden.
On Saturday, Atlanta made a big push for Horford, offering him a max contract and getting some recruiting help from Kent Bazemore, according to Sheridan Hoops’ Mike Scotto.
According to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Horford ultimately “relented” on their push after the two sides were $6 million apart.
The 6'10" center had played his entire nine-year career for the Hawks since they selected him with the No. 3 pick of the 2007 NBA draft.
– Kenny Ducey