The Boston Celtics announced some eight hours before Monday night’s matchup against the Miami Heat that star big man Al Horford would miss the game for what the team dubbed “personal reasons,” and he would return to work on Tuesday for a practice back in Waltham, Mass.
Those who followed Horford’s sister, Anna, on social media were already aware that Boston’s free agent acquisition and his wife Amelia welcomed the couple’s second child, a daughter, on Sunday.
MY NIECE HAS ARRIVED!! ????????
— Anna Horford (@AnnaHorford) November 27, 2016
In other words, Horford would receive family leave for all of one day for the birth of his daughter. And that was apparently too much for Boston sports radio and TV personality Michael Felger to bear. He spewed this hot take on the Celtics’ flagship station, CSN New England, via MassLive.com’s Jay King:
“I do have one nit to pick, one little thing. Al Horford, your $30 million man or however much you pay him a year, sat out tonight because he had the birth of his kid — was it yesterday? Yesterday. He had the birth of his kid in Atlanta. The game was in Miami. I know when you make $30 million a year, it ain’t much to get a private jet. [Celtics co-owner] Wyc [Grousbeck] would probably pick it up to fly down at 3 o’clock in Atlanta. It’s about a 90-minute flight to Atlanta. Play the game and come right back. I’m sure his wife in the hospital surrounded by nurses, mothers, aunts, relatives. I would have gone to the game, I would have played the game, and I like my guys to sort of forsake everything for the team.”
Forsake everything? Everything, including your daughter. This isn’t King Joffrey asking Ned Stark to forsake his daughter in some “Game of Thrones” script. This is a Boston sports media curmudgeon ranting about a basketball player missing a late November game against a five-win Miami team. Felger did add one caveat to his personal family leave policy, so you don’t think he’s completely heartless:
“Can I just say one thing quickly. If there were complications, then OK, take that all off the table. If the mother or the child or something happened where there were complications, then I totally understand. But if it’s just a generic child birth? Play the game. Play the game.”
I don’t know about you, but when my daughter was born, I too completely dismissed the new addition to our family as a “generic child birth.” My wife was so pleased to hear the laborious birthing process described in such a manner that we named the baby Generic Child and returned to work posthaste.
To his credit, CSNNE cohost Kyle Draper challenged Felger, saying, “I mean you’re the ultimate tough guy. We know that. You probably would’ve done it all — delivered the baby, too, then hopped on the plane and went down there. Here’s the thing about Al Horford’s decision to stay with his family for the birth of his child … it’s a November basketball game against one of the worst teams in the league.”
For those outside Boston, Felger also has two daughters with his wife, Sara Underwood, a morning news host for Boston’s Fox affiliate. Felger proudly boasted, “Look it up. When my second daughter was born, I missed one day. One. She was born on Saturday, and I was there on Monday. I missed one day. … She was right down the street at the hospital. I bombed out, I did four hours of radio, bombed back to the hospital. Everyone was fine. … It was just a little soft. Go play the game for God’s sakes.”
Because driving to a radio station to talk for four hours is the same as flying to another city and playing a professional sport after what was probably an exhausting previous 24 hours or more. Oh, and Horford also missed one day of work. He returned to Tuesday’s practice in Waltham as planned.
"For my family's sake, it was important to be there," Al Horford says of staying back home for the birth of his second child.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 29, 2016
Back in 2012, when Underwood left her full-time role at Fox 25 after the birth of their second child, Felger told Bay State Parent magazine, “It’s been inspiring to see the time, attention and love she has shown her family since leaving Fox. I know she’s going to get the itch to get back into the business eventually and throw herself into it like she once did. It’s inevitable. I’ll be happy for her when that day comes, but part of me dreads it. Because this has been an utter joy. And that’s for real.”
[Follow Dunks Don’t Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]
See, he’s not completely coldhearted. Just when it comes to $30 million Boston athletes, it seems. Oh, and one last thing: The Celtics beat the Heat 112-104 in Miami on Monday night, without Al Horford.
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