Livescore Sunday, May 19

Celtics held ‘long hope’ that Blake Griffin might rejoin team originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Hours after Blake Griffin announced his retirement from basketball, former Celtics teammate Al Horford admitted that his former Boston teammates held out some hope that Griffin might find a spot with the green this season.

Griffin spent the 2022-23 season with Boston and earned rave reviews for the way he embraced being a role player, most notably while taking on a leadership role with the Bus 1 Boys, a group of younger, end-of-the-bench players that stayed ready despite inconsistent roles.

The Celtics kept a roster spot open for much of the season and it often seemed like there was an open invitation for Griffin to consider a return. Players had previously noted how they didn’t put too much pressure on Griffin to consider a return, but very much appreciated what he brought the team a year ago.

“Great teammate. Everybody here, we love Blake,” said Horford. “There was a long hope that maybe he was gonna be around some way [this season].

“Just a lot of good memories with him. The year that he was here, he made it enjoyable for me. Just fun to come in and to work with him every day, and getting to talk to him and getting to know him with some of the things off the court. And him, as a person, just a great guy.

“So definitely a Hall of Fame player with everything that he’s accomplished. And I’ll make sure that I reach out to him. At some point we’ll celebrate because he had an unbelievable career.”

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla noted how his appreciation for Griffin soared last season when, after Griffin’s on-court role diminished, he sought out the first-year coach to find out how he might earn more time. Mazzulla marveled at the humility of the former No. 1 pick.

Mazzulla said Griffin set the temperature of the locker room from that point forward, even as Griffin’s body prevented him from playing more during the team’s postseason run.

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