Photo: Nancy Lane/Boston Herald

Jayson Tatum understands what Al Horford has contributed to his rising NBA career.

And it seems that he is not forgetting it, as the superstar forward provided a lengthy speech praising the veteran big man’s impact not only on him but also on the Boston Celtics.

“Al is for sure one of the best teammates I’ve ever had at any level,” Tatum said about Horford following the Celtics’ Friday win over the Denver Nuggets. “I think about being 19 and coming in my first year and him kind of taking me under his wing from a professional standpoint. I remember the first training camp, every day after practice he would just encourage me and ask me how I was feeling. Good days and bad days, he always seemed to check up on me. 

“Al is like the ultimate professional, the ultimate teammate. He’s extremely selfless, always wants what’s best for the team and six years later now, for him to still be the same person, and at 36 years old to still be a starter for us this season and last season just shows how he takes care of his body every single day. And even if he’s not the most vocal guy, he’s someone I’ve always learned from, of how to go about things. It’s not a given you’re going to play 16 years in this league and he’s still at the top of his game. So no surprise that he’s playing the way he is, but he deserves a lot of credit for the success that we have this season and continue to have, and obviously last season.”

The Celtics initially acquired Horford back in the 2016 offseason, helping them to get over the hump and seize a new level as an Eastern Conference power for the following three years. 

And last year, Horford made a return to the team. His unswayed veteran presence and reliable production amid his age gave the Celtics a huge boost to reach the NBA Finals for the first time in 12 years.

For most of his years in Boston, Tatum managed to share the court with Horford. He can’t be more proud of what the former All-Star big man has provided in his growth of attaining the league superstardom.