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Al Horford is set to play in his first NBA Finals. Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Al Horford is set to play in his first NBA Finals. Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Al Horford to make history as first Dominican player to play in the NBA Finals

He will play in his first NBA Finals, 15 years and 141 playoff games after he was drafted into the NBA.

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As the NBA prepares for Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals June 2, Al Horford of the Boston Celtics will be making history when he steps onto the court.

Horford will be the first Dominican player to ever play in the NBA Finals during the league’s 75-year history.

Prior to advancing to the NBA Finals after a 100-96 win over the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Horford had played 141 playoff games before ever reaching the Finals — an NBA record.

Horford was noticeably emotional once the buzzer sounded after the Game 7 victory.

When asked what the achievement meant to him, Horford told CBS Sports, “We’re here in Miami really close to [the Dominican Republic]. I know my family’s happy. Everybody’s happy. Everybody’s watching. The country was watching… They were ready for this. We’re enjoying this one.”

A second-generation NBA player, Horford’s father Tito Horford, was the NBA’s first Dominican-born player when he was drafted into the NBA by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1988. He played three seasons in the NBA, before traveling the world to play basketball in France, Italy and his native, Dominican Republic. 

Born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, Horford lived there until the age of 14 when he and his family moved to Lansing, Michigan. 

He began his NBA career with the Atlanta Hawks, who drafted him with the 3rd overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft. His entry into the league came after winning back-to-back NCAA championships as a college player at the University of Florida in 2006 and 2007. Horford spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Hawks, earning three NBA All-Star nods with the team (2010, 2011, 2015), making the NBA All-Rookie First Team (2008), and being named to the All-NBA Third Team (2011).

Horford signed a free-agent deal with the Celtics in 2016, and played there for three seasons until 2019. The following two seasons saw Horford play with the Philadelphia 76ers and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively, before getting traded back to the Celtics prior to the 2021-22 season. 

Across his 15 seasons in the NBA, the 35-year-old Horford has averaged 13.7 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, 3.3 assists per game and 1.2 blocks per game. 

The 2022 NBA Finals will be between the Celtics and Golden State Warriors.

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