PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Sixers kickoff the 2019-20 NBA season Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center against the Boston Celtics — the former team of new Sixer Al Horford. Expectations with the team are extremely high as they hope Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons take the next step forward and they believe Horford could be one of those missing pieces towards a championship, which we haven’t seen in Philadelphia with the 76ers since 1983.
Adding a five-time all-star and one of the top defensive big men in the league seems unfair, but Horford is now a key part of the Sixers’ star-studded starting five.
Embiid says adding Horford is great for the team and individually.
“I feel like he brings something different, especially if I go on the bench or if I’m missing games,” Embiid said. “And I’m excited about what he can bring. Obviously we’ve had great battles and it was fun. And now being on the same team, I look up to him as far as, you know, showing me the right way.”
CBS3’s Pat Gallen sat down with Horford ahead of tonight’s season opener to talk about what he expects from his new team and what stands out about his new city.
“Man, just the food,” Horford said. “The food scene here is something that I did not expect. A lot of great restaurants. Been eating some good stuff.”
Horford recently surprised students with a basketball camp at Thomas Edison High School.
He believes that building a strong rapport with the community is vital.
“One of the things I did when we figured out we were coming here, I spoke with my agent and said I wanna get involved in the community right away,” Horford explained. “And right away we’ve been doing it, we’re doing other programs along with the 76ers mentorship programs with inner-city youth. So I just wanna make sure I’m doing my part.”
On the court, Horford knows there is great potential with this roster.
“I think on the defensive end we’ve been really able to connect. On offense, I think we’re still figuring that part out. It takes time, but doesn’t matter what kind of lineup it is,” Horford said.
But it’s definitely not championship or bust.
“I don’t know if I would view it that way,” Horford said. “I wanna see how much we can grow as a group and progress and play the right way. We do have expectations, but I don’t wanna put a ceiling to what we can do but obviously we expect to win a championship.”
After three years in Boston, the 12-year veteran switches sides in the Sixers/Celtics rivalry, something he’s cherished being a part of, but he can’t wait to wear the red, white, and blue.
“It was always intense, but I’m happy to be on the good side now,” Horford said. “And I’m hoping that we’re able to bring some special moments to all the people here in Philadelphia.”