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Al Horford On Celtics Career: 'I Can't Wait To Get Started'

BOSTON (CBS) -- The Celtics officially/unofficially introduced their major free-agent addition in Al Horford on Friday morning.

It was unofficial because, as Wyc Grousbeck said, the official paperwork had not exactly been completed. While that resulted in some careful language from the Celtics co-owner, it didn't dampen the excitement.

"We're welcoming Al Horford and his family to Boston and we're looking forward to the future," Grousbeck said. "He is a man who plays basketball the right way and reminds me of the great Celtics of the past. He believes in Celtics Pride, and we believe in him. And when we are able to step forward with Al and finalize the paperwork, this will be a big step in our relentless quest for Banner 18."

Horford, 30, previously spent his entire career with the Atlanta Hawks. But he was lured by the Celtics' four-year, $113 million offer, becoming the biggest free-agent signing in team history.

"I'm very grateful, I'm very excited for this opportunity for me and my family," Horford said. "I have a lot of respect for this organization. I'm excited. I've always admired the Celtics from afar, just how everything gets carried over here and how committed the team and the city is to winning and doing things the right way. So I'm very, very excited and I can't wait to get started. I know we have a lot of work ahead, and that really excites me."

While the contract is a big one, it wasn't the deciding factor for Horford.

David Ortiz On Al Horford

"I'm very encouraged by the group of players that are here," he said. "A lot of young, hard-working, talented players, and just playing in that series, I saw the passion that they played with and how much better they got as a team throughout the season. And it's something that excites me to be a part of this."

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Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was, unsurprisingly, equally excited about the addition.

"The great thing about Al and our excitement is he plays the way that great Celtics of the past have played. He plays with a passion that is contagious to his teammates. He's a player that can fit with all sorts of types of players," Ainge said. "He is a player that, watching him play against us in the playoffs this year and flying around and contesting shots and bringing an energy and passion, I think he is a player that our fans will fall in love with and his teammates will fall in love with. And our coach will fall in love, as well."

Brad Stevens chimed in: "That part's already done."

The championship-driven nature of the organization was on display when Grousbeck jumped at the opportunity presented from a brief lull in questions from reporters.

"I just want to point to Al, he might not have seen it, but there's a blank banner up there on the right," Grousbeck said. "So we're hoping that we can work together on that one."

"For sure," Horford agreed.

Despite that goal, Ainge said the Celtics aren't exactly at the point of title contention at this very moment.

"Right now it definitely makes us better than we were last year. We felt like we were rightfully the third seed in the Eastern Conference, and the addition of Al makes us a better team for sure, with his versatility, experience, leadership that we've all talked about today," Ainge said. "But I think we're not done. I think we still have work to do."

The Celtics' history in luring big-name free agents has not been great, and Horford was asked directly about why that wasn't a consideration for him.

"It's a great organization. There's a lot of history here. I feel like everyone around the league respects it, we acknowledge it, and that's a big part of the reason why I chose to come here," he said. "I feel like in years to come this will open the doors for many other big free agents. You have to consider this is a special place, and I think people that are open to it, they'll see how special this place is."


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