On a team with Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Mike Bibby, Horford has evolved into arguably the Hawks’ most indispensable player. Horford is different because he’s leading and he’s not the Hawks’ offensive centerpiece, like Chris Paul in New Orleans or LeBron James in Cleveland. He’s different because he’s 23 years old, and not nearly acting his age. He’s different because he’s a second-year pro and leading this team —- often by example, sometimes by his words, even in the face of a veteran teammate.
Veteran Joe Johnson contends that guys like Horford are rare: “Only a very small percentage of young guys can come into this league and lead. The ones who do usually are the focal point of their team. Al’s different.”
"If I see that somebody is not necessarily putting in the effort or is slacking off and it’s noticeable, I’m going to say something. I did it at Florida when I felt I had to. I did it in high school. Here, I’ve done it a couple of times. Usually I’m very mellow. But sometimes I think something needs to be said, even if I put it out there in front of the whole team, even to the point where the guys might be mad at me for a day or two. I think it’s for the best.”