Before he attempted his first shot or grabbed his first rebound as a 76er, Al Horford had one other duty before beginning his career with his new team.
Horford had the duty of ringing the ceremonial bell, the pre-game ritual that goes to a celebrity before a Sixers game.
It was symbolic since Horford rang in a new era with his current team against his former one. After playing the previous three seasons with the Boston Celtics, Horford signed in the offseason as a free agent with the Sixers, a four-year $97 million deal that could reach $109 million with championship bonuses.
Even though he is a five-time all-star, the 33-year-old Horford is known more as a workmanlike performer, and he had that type of effort in Wednesday’s opening 107-93 win over the Celtics before the usual sellout crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.
Horford played 31 minutes and 11 seconds and totaled 16 points, three assists and two rebounds. He shot 5 of 13 including 1 of 6 from three-point range.
His effort on defense, guarding power forwards and centers was strong, just like the rest of his team. Boston shot just 36.7 percent from the field.
As far as the bell-ringing went, Horford was approached by the Sixers on Tuesday to see if he would perform the pre-game ritual. .
After he agreed, Horford got instructions on how things went. He aced the assignment and the crowd of 20,422 gave him a rousing ovation.
“It was a very cool moment,” Horford said. “I really enjoyed it and felt it was special.”
As his offensive statistics show, Horford struggled from beyond the arc, but he had plenty of company. The Sixers shot 7 for 29 (24.1 percent) from three-point range.
“We didn’t shoot the ball as well as we wanted to tonight,” Horford said. “One of our identity is defense and we established that tonight and that put us in a position to win the game.”
Horford wasn’t nervous about ringing the bell, but playing his ex-teammates was a different story.
“It is still very weird to me,” he said about going up against the Celtics. “It felt good to go out and get a win. It is finally over type thing.”
He admitted that he feels relieved that his first rematch with the Celtics is over.
“There was a lot of emotion leading up to this and everything and I am just very happy we came out, we competed and we were able to get this first win,” Horford said.
Sixers coach Brett Brown gave Horford a high grade for his debut.
“Just solid all over the place,” Brown said of Horford’s performance. “He is just so intellectually ready to play, he is so in the moment, he is in the game.”
When Horford wasn’t in the game, he was still in the game mentally according to Brown.
“I thought Al was just solid throughout, certainly solid in timeouts with his comments among his teammates,” Brown said.
Celtics forward Jayson Tatum talked about facing Horford, who had served as a mentor to the rising third-year player.
“It’s all love, that’s my man,” said Tatum, who had 21 points but shot 8 for 22. “...I mean when the game start, we are not cool, but that’s basketball.”
Horford was excited to take the floor with his new team, and the bell ringing is just an additional memory of his Sixers debut.
“I was thinking about it a lot,” Horford said about the bell ringing duty. “They asked me the day before and I was like I am not going to think about it more and focus on my routine and things like that. I went ahead and did it and it was good.”
So was his Sixers debut.