Former Gator, now Atlanta Hawks rookie center Al Horford faced his first NBA controversy last week when he committed a flagrant foul against Toronto Raptors guard T.J. Ford.
Horford received consolation and support from his former coach, Billy Donovan, who didn’t speak to Horford directly but sent him a text message the morning after the foul occurred.
The digital message? Keep your head up.
“I sent him a text message saying, ‘Hey listen, you have to move past that,’ ” Donovan recounted. ” ‘A lot of people are going to have an opinion, but you know the kind of person you are, the kind of player you are, and you just can’t let that affect you.’ I think he appreciated that.”
Horford was suspended for one game for the foul that sent Ford to the hospital overnight after he crashed to the floor on his back. Ford, who had a prior history of back and spinal problems, was at an Atlanta-area hospital for observation and released the next day.
Horford visited Ford in the hospital that night.
“How many kids take the time to take a trip to the hospital and see if a guy is OK?” Donovan said. ” I don’t know what people’s perception of Al is because a lot of times when someone goes into the NBA they don’t know the person. And they see a play like that early on in their career and they say, OK, this is a dirty play, and that’s definitely not who Al Horford is.”