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What Made Al Horford Choose the 76ers in Free Agency?

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Editor

When Al Horford opted out of his contract on June 18, he knew that he would have a lot of teams interested in adding his services. However, he didn't think that the Philadelphia 76ers would be one of those teams. 

"When Elton [Brand] called and spoke with my agent, he laid down his offer," Horford said in Friday's introductory press conference. "I was very surprised that there was that strong interest for me being here. It made the decision very easy and I'm excited to be a part of this." 

Horford is very familiar with the 76ers due to his time playing against them as a member of the rival Boston Celtics. He knew that Philadelphia would be a good fit for him on the court, and they are also a good match for one of his top priorities at this point of his career, winning a championship. 

Horford is a five-time All-Star and has made the playoffs every year of his career. However, an NBA championship is the one thing that has eluded him to this point in his career. One of the reasons why Horford chose the 76ers is because of their ability to potentially win a championship, saying that "winning was a priority for me."

"When you add the potential of this group and what I have seen, Coach Brown leading the way. Joel, Ben, Tobias and all the upside that we have, we just finished assembling our group," Horford said. "Every time I kept looking at the players we were signing, I kept getting more excited ... I felt like we were in a good place and I feel really good about our future."

The potential of a Joel Embiid - Al Horford big-man pairing in the starting lineup is incredible. The two players both have similar abilities offensively, being able to space out on the perimeter while also having the ability to work out of the post. However, what can make this pairing special is their ability to play lockdown defense. Embiid is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate every year, and Horford is a savvy veteran who knows where to position himself to play excellent defense. 76ers fans have experienced plenty of times Horford's defensive abilities. Horford was one of the few big men who could give Embiid trouble offensively. 

"I think I've said this in the past, but I have always been a fan of Joel and everything he brings on the court and off the court," Horford said. "There were some great battles, and when this opportunity came along, the possibility of teaming up with him got me really excited about the potential. How good we can be defensively. Just get to working together and do some special things. I'm very grateful to be in this position."

Horford felt comfortable coming to Philadelphia, a place where he was familiar with both the players on the court as well as the team's general manager, Elton Brand. The two played together on the Atlanta Hawks in both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, so Horford was allowed the chance to get to know firsthand the commitment that Brand has to winning. 

"His commitment to wanting to win and doing the right things inspired me back then and I think that he believed in me and in this group and what we can do," Horford said. "When he approached me, it felt right. That's why I'm excited to be here, because I know that he wants what is best for this city and what we are trying to do."

There were plenty of reasons why Horford chose to come to the 76ers over some of his other suitors in free agency (Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans). However, the $109 million that he's getting from Philadelphia certainly helped as well. 

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