During his 15 seasons in the NBA, he’s faced “King James” 14 times, and he’s gotten his ass handed to him every time – until now. In a postgame interview, Al Horford fired shots at doubters and haters, saying “A lot of people doubted us out there… thought we were finished.”
Coming off the much needed win, Horford’s interview was exactly what fans needed.
For Al Horford it was genuine vindication, so it’s understandable that he’d be emotional. Especially considering that this hard-fought victory follows that brutal franchise record-setting loss in Game 2. Lebron and company beat the Celtics by a humiliating 44 points, so it must have been huge for him to avenge that “L” by snapping the Cavs’ post-season streak with his own first personal win over LBJ in the playoffs.
Check out the entire interview below:
What do you think? Was Horford’s post-game interview “too much” or was it just “ruthless aggression?”
Latinos have impacted a lot of sports in America, and the NBA is no exception. In the past decades, Latin America has produced some superstar players. From point guards to centers, the Miami Heat to the Toronto Raptors, these players have been fun to watch. Plus, most of them have played for their home country’s national teams, including the Olympics.
Let’s explore 11 of our favorite Latino NBA players, both past and present:
Al Horford is part of a basketball family. His father, Tito Horford, played in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Washington Bullets. Horford was born in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic before he moved with his family to Lansing, Michigan. Horford now has a family of his own, with wife Amelia Vega and two children.
Nenê is in his 18th NBA season, with stints in Denver and Washington before his current position with the Houston Rockets. Unfortunately, his long NBA career has been sprinkled with injuries. Currently, he has a strained calf that has him sitting the bench for the beginning of the 2018-19 season. But he won’t be out for long!
Fun Fact: Nenê is not his real name. Nenê was born Maybyner Rodney Hilário in São Carlos, Brazil. Nene is a nickname meaning “baby”, because he was the youngest in his family and his group of childhood friends. He liked the nickname so much he had his name legally changed to Nenê in 2003, right after his first season in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets.
J.J. Barea is the point guard for the Dallas Mavericks. He is in his 13th NBA season, where he has played entirely for the Dallas Mavericks except for a three-season stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves from 2011-2014. He may not be in the starting lineup, but he’s an important contributor to the game. Last season, he averaged 11.6 points per game and 6.3 assists per game.
Credit: Instagram @jjbarea11
J.J. Barea may have a big personality, but he’s a short basketball player. While listed at 6’0”, his actual height is closer to 5’10”. His big career can give any of you short players out there hope!
Carlos was born in Argentina, but holds dual citizenship with Italy as well. He played in the NBA for 8 seasons, from 2004-14, with a short break from 2008-09 to play in Europe. He started in Detroit, before playing for Toronto, Milwaukee, and Houston. His best years were with the Milwaukee Bucks, where he posted career highs and made a big impact from the three-point line.
When he wasn’t playing in the NBA, Delfino was a big part of the Argentinian national teams. In 2001, he played on the junior team in the 2001 FIBA World Championship. He was part of the senior team for the 2004, 2008, and 2016 Summer Olympics as well as the 2006 FIBA World Championship.
Tiago had a short NBA career due to a hip injury, but it was a great one. This 6’11” played power forward and center during his seven seasons. He spent five seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, he made it to the NBA playoffs each year and became the first Brazilian to win an NBA championship in 2014. He was then traded to the Hawks and then the Philadelphia 76ers before announcing his retirement in February of 2018. Tiago was hired in April of 2018 by the Brooklyn Nets as a pro scout, with added duties related to on-court development.
Before Tiago joined the NBA, he had an 11-year career in Europe. His professional career started at just 14 years old, which is part of what kept him out of the NBA. He was expected to declare for the 2006 NBA draft, but delayed until 2010 in part because he could make more money in the Spanish ACB League, where the NBA rookie scale salary cap did not apply.
The Brazilian Anderson Varejao had twelve seasons with Cleveland Cavaliers, where he was a fan and team favorite. The people loved his wild hair and energetic playing, even dubbing him with the nickname “Wild Thing”. After twelves seasons, he was traded in early 2016 to the Portland Trail Blazers, where he was waived before signing in the middle of the 2016 season with the Golden State Warriors.
In 2016, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers made it to the NBA Finals. The Elias Sports Bureau says that Varejao is the first player in history to play for both Finals teams in the same season. Unfortunately, he didn’t not get a championship ring because the Warriors lost after being up 3-1 in the series.
Our Puerto Rican point guard is still playing internationally, even though his NBA career is over. Over 13 seasons, Arroyo played for a variety of NBA teams, including the Toronto Raptors, the Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz, the Detroit Pistons, the Orlando Magic, the Miami Heat, and the Boston Celtics.
Greivis Vasquez grew up in Venezuela with his parents and his brother before moving to Maryland for high school to play basketball. He went to the prestigious Montrose Christian School where he played with future NBA star Kevin Durant. From there he went on to play in the NCAA at the University of Maryland.
From college, he was drafted into the NBA for the Memphis Grizzlies. He went on to play for the New Orleans Hornets, the Sacramento Kings, the Toronto Raptors, the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Brooklyn Nets before being waived. His career highlights were during his years with the New Orleans Hornets, where he was the league leader in assists for the 2012-13 season.
In the 2005 draft, Garcia was the 23rd pick in the first round, going to the Sacramento Kings. He played with the Kings for 8 seasons before being traded to the Houston Rockets in 2013 for his final three seasons in the NBA.
Luis Scola was born in Argentina, where he started his professional basketball career in the Aregentine league at 15 years old. He then moved to Spain in 1998, where he played for seven years with Saski Baskonia.
The San Antonio Spurs drafted Scola in 2002, but were unable to negotiate a buyout with Baskonia. Finally, in 2007, the Spurs traded the rights to Scola to the Houston Rockets, and the buyout was resolved quickly. As a starter for the Rockets and then the Phoenix Suns, this power forward was a great NBA player. His NBA career ended in 2017, but he is still playing in China and for the Argentina national team.
Over 23 seasons, Ginobili is one of only two players to have won a EuroLeague title, an NBA championship, and an Olympic gold medal. He actually won four NBA championships, all with the San Antonio Spurs.
In another first for the NBA, a Latino has been named a full-time head coach for the first time in league history. The Charlotte Hornets gave James Borrego the reins as head coach. This is a first for the league in the 72-year history. The 40-year-old coach was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His coaching career started in 2001 as an assistant for University of San Diego and then made the leap to the NBA as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.
James Borrego joins a select group of Latinos to ever be named head coach in the NBA but the first to ever be an external full-time hire.
Dick Versace, head coach of the Indiana Pacers from 1988 to 1990, and Earl Watson, who coached the Phoenix Suns from 2015 to 2017, were both of Latino descent but were only given interim coach titles. Borrego’s resume speaks for itself as he has amassed 15 years of experience in the NBA as well as an interim head coach run in 2015 for the Orlando Magic.
“He has been a part of teams that have ascended to the highest levels of success in our league and understands what it takes to win in the NBA,” Mitch Kupchak, General Manager of the Charlotte Hornets told the official team website. “James is considered one of the NBA’s most well-regarded assistant coaches and it’s great to have him as part of our team.”
Borrego’s hiring is positive news for the NBA as the number of Latino players have decreased.
James Borrego will be the first Hispanic head coach in NBA history when he signs on with the @hornets. Great news for the former @spurs assistant and the entire @NBA.
The number of Latino players in the NBA decreased from 6.3 percent in 2015-16 to 4.9 percent during the 2016-17 season according to the 2017 Racial and Gender Report Card: National Basketball Association. The NBA has paved the way for coaches before as Bill Russell in 1966 became the first non-white and African-American head coach in the NBA after the Boston Cetics hired him. Erik Spoelstra became the NBA’s first Asian-American head coach when the Miami Heat promoted him in 2008.
Many are cheering for this landmark moment for Latinos in the NBA.
Congrats Coach James Borrego First Latino Mexican Coach!! (assistant Spurs Coach) picked as Head Coach by Charlotte Hornets. Breaking barriers mi Hermano!! Be blessed in all your endeavors!!
For the NBA, this isn’t just another hiring but a moment to acknowledge the growth and expansion of the league and how far Latinos have gone to make an impact in the sport. Good luck to James this season and I’m sure all Latinos will be cheering for his continued success in the NBA.