Al Horford respects Tommy Heinsohn's opinion that 'he's not a great player'

Al Horford scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Atlanta's Game 1 win over Boston, then had to answer questions about Celtics broadcaster Tommy Heinsohn saying "he's not a great player." AP Photo/David Goldman

ATLANTA -- Al Horford respects Celtics great and analyst Tommy Heinsohn’s opinion, even if that opinion is that the Celtics can beat the Hawks because Horford is “not a great player.”

Heinsohn, who basically bleeds green for his love of the Celtics, says if the Celtics get a man on Horford, the Hawks’ All-Star big man will have difficulty scoring.

“I didn’t see it, but that’s his opinion, you gotta respect it,” Horford said on Monday after Hawks practice when told of what Heinsohn said. “I do [respect his opinion]. That’s his opinion and that’s how he feels.”

While on Comcast SportsNet New England after the Hawks edged Boston 102-101 in Game 1 of their first-round series on Saturday, Heinsohn said Horford might be overrated.

“The fact that [the Celtics] turned it around shows what kind of heart this basketball team has,” Heinsohn said of Boston erasing a 19-point first-half deficit, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “... The additional encouraging part is if they can go out and stay aggressive at both ends of the floor, they can beat this team because Horford, as much as you think he’s a great player, he’s not a great player. Get a man on him and he has trouble scoring.”

Horford, a four-time All-Star center, had 24 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks against the Celtics in Game 1.

“Oh, wow, I’m sure Al is going to come out and prove something,” teammate Kent Bazemore said when told what Heinsohn believes. “You know Al’s a great player and he’s extended his range. He can shoot it now, he can protect the rim and blocks shots and he’s a great leader. I could go on all day about all the accolades he has. Al’s a great teammate.

“There’s always someone that’s going to say a guy’s not a good player. [Even] Jesus Christ had haters. What can you say?”

Horford was involved in trade rumors before the deadline and Boston was linked to the center’s name. Surely Heinsohn would reconsider what he thinks if Horford were in green and white.

For now, Horford is focused on beating the Celtics and not what Heinsohn may think about his game.

“I’ve been in the league a long time,” Horford said. “I know I have to focus on my team and this is the playoffs, we’re in a great position and we have a great opportunity, so we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”