The road was very long and often teased Al Horford on his way up. Going professional made him have big stints with the Atlanta Hawks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Philadelphia 76ers. But, it was the Boston Celtics that gave him shot to finally have a complete career by winning the NBA Finals. He might have departed from the Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum-led squad for quite some time but his return was crucial in helping Joe Mazzulla bring home the franchise's 18th banner.

Al Horford just needed a Larry O'Brien trophy to round out a legendary career. With their 106 to 88 win against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, he finally did it. The veteran is also not going home without breaking NBA Finals history.

Al Horford is the first champion to be older than his head coach since 1969, per HoopsHype. He is 38 years old and Joe Mazzulla is three years younger than him. Poetically, the Celtics also had the last and only other pairing in NBA Finals history to have achieved this accolade. It was Bill Russell and Buddy Jeannette who notched it back in their 1969 title run.

Moreover, Joe Mazzulla is also the second-youngest head coach to win the NBA Finals. The only other person who did it at a younger age? Well, it was also the late Bill Russell when he was 34 while Mazzulla reached basketball immortality a year older.

All of this makes for a weird stat in NBA Finals history. Typically, the coaches are older and former players in the league who develop young guys. But, Mazzulla is not one of these. He did not play in the league and the funny thing is he won against Jason Kidd, a prominent point guard who transitioned into coaching after his career.

A hard road to an NBA Finals with the Celtics

Jun 17, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) kisses the trpohy after winning the 2024 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
© Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Horford's veteran leadership should also not be discounted. The Celtics big man has been with the team since the 2016 season. He is so good with the Celtics that other teams would not see his optimal production when they acquired him, just ask the Thunder and 76ers.

He already has his All-Star selections and even earned the first seed with the Hawks. It was this title with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum that made his resume complete. To no one's surprise, he was ecstatic after holding the Larry O'Brien trophy for the first time in his career.

I can't believe it. I still can't believe it. We did it, we're here, and I can't believe it. This is just how I pictured it, here at the Garden, with our fans, everybody together. This is just how I saw it. Eight years ago. This is how I saw it eight years ago. Wyc knows about it, Wyc knows about the ring. Eight years ago!

There are a lot of reasons for the Celtics to celebrate. Giving Horford his first-ever win after almost a decade of being with the team has to be up there.