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Robb: Al Horford Opens Up About His Decision To Take Paternal Leave From Celtics

By Brian Robb, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) – Al Horford returned to the floor with his teammates on Tuesday afternoon after spending the past two days with his wife for the birth of their daughter Alia. The couple welcomed their second child into the world on Sunday evening and Horford missed the Celtics' win over the Miami Heat on Monday evening in order to stay with the newest member of his family.

The All-Star big man received some backlash in a few corners of social media for his decision, but Horford addressed the support he received from the organization during his time away on Tuesday.

"The guys were supportive," Horford said after returning to practice. "It was hard for me [to miss the game] but I felt like it was the right thing for me to be next to my wife. And [the team] supported me throughout. That's always helpful. Just excited. Everybody was happy to have me back. And I'm happy to be back here, and we can put everything behind and get looking forward ahead to [Wednesday's] game."

The 6-foot-10 forward is averaging 14.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game since signing a $113 million contract with the Celtics this offseason. Those contributions make him one of the most valuable members of the roster, but he admitted he did not want to leave his wife in the midst of what has been an eventful year for them both.

"I'm in more of a unique situation because this is our first year here and my wife, we all moved in the middle of the pregnancy," Horford continued. "And just a lot going on. So I just felt like it was important for me to really be there, supporting her. And we have a son as well. So for her, it's been a lot thrown at her these past few months.

"So I know that it meant a lot for me to be there with her, and knowing our schedule ahead and everything. So I'm just very happy that the Celtics really take the time and they consider us not only as players but as people. And people that have families."

As for the limited criticism that surfaced on the web about Horford's decision to miss game action, the 30-year-old preferred not to get caught up in that conversation.

"I don't really read into anything. I don't read Twitter and stuff, and the radio and all that," Horford said. "I just kind of focus on the court, on my job here, and then off the court on my family. Everybody has their opinion. I respect anything that anybody has to say. I care a lot about the group and our guys. For my family's sake, it was important for me to be there for them. Just with our transition and everything. So that's that. Now I can put that behind me and get focused again on [Wednesday] night."

The Celtics will aim to improve upon their 5-2 record when Horford is in the lineup when they host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night at the TD Garden.

Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.

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