BOSTON -- Want proof the Celtics harbor no ill will toward Al Horford after he signed with the rival Philadelphia 76ers last offseason?
That proof was taped up just outside the visitors' locker room at TD Garden: a green and white sign welcoming Horford back to Boston.
New wall decoration outside the Sixers locker room at TD Garden 🙌 pic.twitter.com/yLdx0oNd5M— Darren Hartwell (@darren_hartwell) December 12, 2019
It was a small but telling gesture from the Celtics to Horford in his first trip back to Boston -- and one not many former players get.
Celtics definitely dipping into the Pacers playbook here. Can’t remember them doing this for anyone else. https://t.co/VKkW0Z3D3n— Chris Forsberg (@ChrisForsberg_) December 13, 2019
The photo, taken during the 2017-18 season, features Horford with Abdel Nader to the left and Jayson Tatum to the right.
Horford seemed pleasantly surprised when reporters pointed the sign out to him about 45 minutes before the game.
"That's pretty cool. That's really nice," Horford said. "Those are my boys over there. JT and, is that Nader? That's Nader. That's funny."
Horford was a team favorite during his three seasons in Boston from 2016 to 2018, providing consistent play on the court and veteran leadership off it.
The 33-year-old signed a four-year, $97 million contract with the Celtics' direct rival over the summer, though, and was unclear how fans at TD Garden would receive him Thursday night.
"I’m not really sure," Horford said. "But regardless, I've got no hard feelings here. It’s all love.”
The feeling clearly is mutual.
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Mavericks, which tips off Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Scal have the call at 9:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.