INDIANAPOLIS — Jaylen Brown has been around the Celtics fan base long enough to know that they can be hard on former C’s who return with their new teams.
Or in the case of Kyrie Irving, whose new team (the Brooklyn Nets) showed up to the TD Garden while he stayed in Brooklyn because of a shoulder injury, Celtics fans will boo the hell out of you even if you’re not in the building.
Brown has no idea how they are going to react to ex-Celtic Al Horford returning for the first time with the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.
Still, he has a pretty good idea of what that moment will be like for him when Horford is introduced with the Philly starters.
“He should be celebrated,” Brown said. “Boston fans, they’re gonna do what they want, right? Al came here, contributed, took this team the farthest it’s been since ‘08 [NBA champions]. Al served his time well here.”
Brown added, “For me, he was a great leader, a great person… I know I’ll clap for him when they call his name. That’s just me.”
In his three seasons with the Celtics, Boston won 63.8 percent of their games with Horford on the roster in addition to advancing to the playoffs each season, which included consecutive trips (2017 and 2018) to the Eastern Conference finals.
MORE ON HORFORD’S RETURN IN THE CELTICS TALK PODCAST, LISTEN HERE:
In 208 regular-season games with the Celtics, Horford averaged 13.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists.
Semi Ojeleye echoed similar sentiments about Horford.
“Just a great guy, a great man, a great leader,” Ojeleye told NBC Sports Boston earlier. “All of us young guys who are still here, we learned a lot from our time around Al.”
Still, Brown added, don’t get it twisted.
He and his teammates from last season have lots of love for Al, before and after the game.
But when the ball goes up and the game starts? That’s another matter entirely.
“Every time I see Al, that’s my guy,” Brown said. “I’m looking forward to it, say hello before the game. But while we on the court… don’t talk to me.”
Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston’s coverage of Celtics-76ers, which tips off Thursday at 7 p.M. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 8 p.M. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.
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