Boston Celtics playoff run has unexpected tie to Red Sox

Celtics center Al Horford and former Red Sox star David Ortiz go back a long way.
Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox / Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

As the Boston Celtics take on the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals, we're again reminded of the unique relationship between Celtics' center Al Horford and Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.

Horford and Ortiz are both from the Dominican Republic and the two built a close friendship over the course of their careers, especially during Horford's first stint with the Celtics from 2016-2019.

In an interview with MassLive back in 2022, Ortiz spoke about how the two bonded. During Horford's tenure with the Atlanta Hawks, the two sparked a friendship that would continue to grow over the course of their careers.

"Whenever the Hawks went to play in Boston, Ortiz would send a car to bring Al to his house. They’d go out to dinner, watch basketball and catch up with each other’s families," wrote Andrew Sharp, in a 2016 feature on Horford for Sports Illustrated. Ortiz even had a personal chef who would cook for Horford when he was in town.

Red Sox legend David Ortiz helped recruit Al Horford to the Celtics

When Horford signed with the Celtics in free agency ahead of the 2016-17 season, he purchased a home about five minutes away from Ortiz's house. The two families would routinely spend time with one another and Ortiz has spoken about being close with Horford's entire family, including his parents.

Horford isn't quite the player he was back in his heyday but he's been a solid contributor for the Celtics this year, averaging just under 27 minutes per game for Joe Mazzulla's squad. His 8.6 points per game are a career low, but he's chipped in with solid defense and offers a strong veteran presence for a young team.

Horford became the first Dominican player to step onto the court for an NBA Finals matchup when the Celtics faced off against the Warriors in 2021-2022. The Warriors bested the Celtics in six games, leaving Horford without an elusive NBA championship.

Horford will get the opportunity to avenge himself, though he'll have to do so against a strong Mavericks team. The Celtics were arguably the best team in the NBA this year but with superstar Luka Dončić and former Celtic Kyrie Irving coming into Boston on a heater, anything could happen.

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