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What the legendary Bill Russell taught Bill Belichick about players like Duron Harmon 10.21.16 at 10:48 am ET
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Nov 1, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics former center Bill Russell watches during the first half of a game between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The legendary Bill Russell continues to impact pro sports today. (Mark L. Baer/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has carved out his legendary career by tapping into the wisdom of other legends.

Just in the last two weeks, the Patriots coach has detailed what he’s learned from Jim Brown and Paul Brown. On Friday, he expanded that reach beyond football, recalling a valuable lesson he learned from the most prolific champion in American team sports history – Bill Russell. The Celtics legend won 11 titles as a player and two as a head coach. He won two NCAA titles with San Francisco and Olympic Gold in 1956.

Belichick said he first spoke to Russell in the early 2000s and talked with him on several occasions, including most recently at the Celtics home playoff games last spring at TD Garden. Belichick invoked the lesson he learned from Russell when he was asked about the qualities of safety Duron Harmon and what makes him the valuable player in the secondary he’s become in his four years in Foxboro.

“Every team, or most every team I’ve ever coached, there’s always a couple of guys on the team that I would say are, for lack of better word, they’re silent leaders,” Belichick said. “They have leadership but it kind of comes out in a little bit a of a different way than Junior Seau or Tedy Bruschi or somebody like that. And again, not saying one’s better than the other, they’re just different.

“I would put Duron in the silent leader category. But I would say, and Bill Russell taught me this, that in a way, a silent leader, in some respects, is more powerful than a more vocal leader because you hear the more vocal guy, you see him, you’re very aware of it but then there are guys that give you that quiet leadership that in a way is more powerful because it’s not quite out there as much but it’s that quiet push sometimes can have a little more impetus. Kind of put Duron into that category.

“First of all, he’s very well respected. He’s smart. He works hard. He studies. He trains hard. I’ll go even back to his first year, he and Logan Ryan, the day after the season, they’re in here, working out, doing extra stuff in the weight room. Here working out in January. Things like that, and just not like ‘Hey coach, I’m here. Make sure you know I’m here, putting in extra time.’ They would do it just to do it. Studies the game well, smart. Obviously, he came up in a great system with Coach [Greg] Schiano and was very well-schooled so when he got here, he was already used to preparation, understood a lot of the finer points of the passing game.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill Russell, Boston Celtics, Duron Harmon
How Brad Stevens has actually given Bill Belichick ‘a lot of insight’ on coaching 09.25.16 at 4:07 pm ET
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Oct 16, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Celtics defeated the Sixers 111 to 91. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Stevens is someone Bill Belichick respects a great deal. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick knows good coaching when he sees it.

And in Brad Stevens, he sees a coach he once was. You’d think it’d be Stevens looking for advice from the Patriots head coach. But on Sunday, Belichick admitted he is the one who has bent the ear of the Celtics’ floor boss for some wisdom.

Stevens turns 40 on Oct. 22 and is entering his fourth season as Celtics coach. When Belichick was 39 (in 1991), he was in his first season as an NFL head coach.

On Friday, Belichick had a chance to chat with Stevens, along with former linebacker Jerod Mayo and left tackle Matt Light at his own foundation’s fundraiser at the Seaport World Trade Center.

“Brad and I talked about a lot of things that are just coaching related,” Belichick said in a Sunday conference call. “Obviously, the sports are different. I don’t know anything about basketball and he doesn’t know much about football so it’s really not about X’s and O’s and that kind of thing, but you know, more of the other parts of coaching; preparation, training, team work, teambuilding, confidence, communication, players relationships and so forth.

“Obviously, we’re in the same business of taking more people to training camp than we can keep on the roster and then managing a roster and dealing with all of the things that happen during the year with that roster, whether that’s bringing other guys on to the team, trades, and so forth and so on. We’ve chatted about a lot of those things.

“He has given me a lot of insight and I’d say some of the players that they get are a little younger than the guys we get on average. They’re coming out of college after one year; we get them after three years or four. Just the transition from college to pro which he obviously has a lot of experience with , coming to the New England area – for most players that’s an adjustment. We don’t get too many guys from this area, so all the things like that.”

Stevens, in one sense, is actually on an even faster path to success than Belichick. Stevens got his team to the playoffs in his second and third years. Belichick didn’t make the playoffs until his fourth season in Cleveland. Belichick won a playoff game that year against the Patriots before being eliminated by the Steelers.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston Bruins, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens
Larry Bird backs Tom Brady: Deflategate was just a ‘bunch of lying’ 11.11.15 at 6:49 pm ET
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Larry Bird thinks Deflategate was a bunch of lying about Tom Brady. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Larry Bird thinks Deflategate was a bunch of lying about Tom Brady. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

One former Boston sports legend has the back of a current one.

Speaking with Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessey, Indiana Pacers team president Larry Bird said Wednesday that he thinks Deflategate was a complete fabrication, built up to tear down Tom Brady.

Bird knows Indianapolis columnist Bob Kravetz very well his work on the Pacers. When he read the initial Deflategate story that Kravitz broke three hours after the AFC championship, he thought something was very off.

“I thought it was a bunch of lying, if you want to know the truth,’€ Bird told Shaughnessey. “That’€™s something Kravitz came up with, and I never believed any of it.

“It doesn’€™t really matter. It was written about a lot around the country, but here in Indianapolis, most people knew. We knew the Patriots was going to beat them anyway. I thought it was pretty chintzy. People finally realized they would have beat us anyway. I just laughed about it.”

Bird admitted that he does root for his hometown Colts but couldn’t help but see that the inflation of the balls had little to nothing to do with the 45-7 outcome in the game that sent the Patriots onto Super Bowl XLIX.

“They got the footballs they played with and we got our footballs,” Bird continued. “And their footballs beat our footballs.

“I watch every one of the Colts games. I really like them. But my son loves all things about the Patriots. And I never root against the Patriots.”

The Pacers were in town Wednesday to take on the Celtics at TD Garden.

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Read More: Boston Celtics, Deflategate, Indiana Pacers, Indianapolis Colts
Patriots bring their party to Celtics-Nuggets game at TD Garden 02.04.15 at 9:14 pm ET
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Many Patriots are NBA fans and many of them ended their day that included a Super Bowl parade with a trip to TD Garden, taking in the Celtics-Nuggets game.

In the first half of the game against the Nuggets, the Celtics welcomed several players onto the court, including Chris Jones, Akeem Ayers and Brandon LaFell. But the biggest cheer – by far – was for defensive back Malcolm Butler, who received a wild ovation when he was introduced.

The introduction on the court was accompanied by a highlight video, including of course Butler’s game-saving interception.

Read More: Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XLIX,
Bill Belichick returns the love from Gregg Popovich: ‘I love to watch that team’ 12.19.14 at 10:17 am ET
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Bill Belichick. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick has a mutual respect for NBA coaching great Gregg Popovich. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — On a day when Boston, New England and the basketball world is talking about Rajon Rondo heading to Dallas, Bill Belichick heaped a huge amount of praise upon Rondo’s new rival in the Western Conference.

Recently, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich praised Bill Belichick and the Patriots as a “fantastic organization.”

On Friday, Belichick accepted the praise and returned the favor.

“It’s flattering he would say that,” Belichick said of the five-time champion Spurs coach. “It means a lot coming from his stature and given the amount of respect I have for him and our organization has for that organization because I think it extends well beyond me. That’s a very flattering comment.

“Tremendous respect for Gregg. I think the consistency they’ve had there, the level that they’ve played at. I love the way he coaches that team. I love to watch that team. He’s really good, really good. It’s not like I watch a hundred basketball games a year or anything like that but I think he handles himself and his team, I admire it. I really do.”

Belichick has often interacted with other coaches in Boston, like former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, ex-Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Bruins coach Claude Julien and Boston College hockey coach Jerry York. In some cases, he’s even invited them into Gillette to speak to his team.

It’s not quite at that level with Popovich, at least not yet.

“We’ve had a lot of indirect conversation. Put it that way,” Belichick said.

Reminded that Popovich’s job just got a lot tougher with Dallas acquiring Rondo in a trade with the Celtics Thursday night, Belichick showed that single-minded focus he shares with Popovich.

“Right now, I’m really worried about the Jets. I can’t worry about everybody else’s team and what their challenges are and all that,” Belichick said. “I’m sure every team has a lot of challenges. We have a big one and that’s really my job to deal with that one.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston Celtics, Gregg Popovich, NBA
Bill Belichick returns the favor to Doc Rivers: ‘I have a lot of respect for Doc’ 12.12.12 at 5:16 pm ET
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FOXBORO — On Tuesday, Doc Rivers expressed his gratitude to Bill Belichick for letting him sit in on an offensive game plan meeting prior to Monday night’s game.

On Wednesday, Belichick essentially said the pleasure was all his.

“It was great to have Doc here,” Belichick said. “I have a lot of respect for Doc and the program the Celtics run. I think he does a tremendous job coaching his team. I really admire the way his teams play, the way his players play. I think he has great leadership from a lot of those guys and has had it through the years. Certainly Kevin [Kevin Garnett] and Paul [Paul Pierce] and guys like that. We’€™ve learned a lot from watching them.”

Has Belichick ever sat in on pregame Celtics meetings like Rivers did on Monday?

“We talk. We exchange ideas,” Belichick said. “I’€™m certainly pulling for them and I know they’€™re pulling for us. We definitely have a rooting interest in it but beyond that, on a professional level, I think there’€™s certainly a lot that I’€™ve learned from watching Doc and the Celtics and the way they do a lot of things organizationally and his coaching style and some of the things he’€™s talked to me about the way he’€™s handled players and handled different situations and things like that. He’€™s talked to our team and said a lot of things that really made sense and really hit home. I’€™ve had an opportunity to talk to his guys a couple times. We have a good relationship. We’€™ve probably both learned from each other.”

In keeping with the light-hearted NBA theme toward the end of Belichick’s presser Wednesday, he was asked if it would be a good idea to just wave at the coach at the end of the game like they do in the NBA instead of a handshake? Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bill Belichick, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett
Vince Wilfork: Celtics, Patriots have one thing in common: ‘A lot of heart’ 05.31.12 at 7:44 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Vince Wilfork is a frequent courtside attendee of Celtics games TD Garden. He has friends and acquaintances on the team.

So, Wednesday night’s loss hurt him just like everyone else in Boston. He was able to put that in the past Thursday morning on the practice fields as Patriots OTAs continued outside Gillette Stadium.

“Absolutely I watched it,” the veteran nose tackle said. “I couldn’€™t believe we blew a 15-point lead. That’€™s heartbreaking, but they’€™re fighting hard. They’€™re fighting really hard, I still have faith and hopefully we can pull two away at home and get it back to even. [I’€™m] a big fan and I’€™m pulling for them.”

He was watching when Rajon Rondo was hit in the head by Dwyane Wade with 1:35 left in overtime and the score tied, 105-105, only to have no foul called.

“Oh man, that’€™s a fine. Out here that’€™s a fine,” Wilfork said, half tongue-in-cheek. “I wish them all the luck in the world. They’€™ve fought through a lot of battles and I’€™m pretty sure character is going to play a lot going into these next couple of games and how well they can play as a team. [It’€™s] the same thing we do, how well we play as a team, I think you perform better [when] you trust teammates. I’€™m pulling for them.”

But besides just cheering for them, Wilfork can’t help but see some admirable qualities in their playoff approach, qualities he likes to think his own team has.

“A lot of heart,” Wilfork said. “We play with a lot of heart and they play with a lot of heart. It’€™s a tough football team and a tough basketball team but when you surround yourself with good people, good athletes and a good organization, people seem to flock to you. People want to come there and be a part of something that’€™s good and they have something that’€™s special. A lot of people wrote them off a long time ago and we’€™ve been written off around here a lot also, so it really doesn’€™t matter what people say, it’€™s all about that locker room.

“That’€™s what it comes down to ‘€“ in that locker room, playing for one another and for the team. Hopefully they can get it done. I’€™ll be there. I’€™m pulling. I’€™m a big fan and they have a bunch of fans in my household. Hopefully they can get it done.”

Four months removed from losing the Super Bowl and coming that close in the last two minutes, Wilfork was asked about the effect it has on him, individually, and what kind of effect does it have on the team.

“No effect,” Wilfork said, almost defiantly. “It has no effect on me. You start back from where you started before, from zero. That’€™s where I’€™m at now. You really can’€™t dwell over spoiled milk. Last year was last year, that’€™s how you have to look at it and keep rolling. You have to be a professional. When it comes down to it you have to be a professional about everything and that plays a big part now. We have to be able to move forward.

“I’€™ve moved forward and I’€™m excited to play football. This is my life and this is what I dreamed of doing. I’€™m back at it, we’€™re back it and we’€™re having fun doing it. [I’€™ve] been running a couple of routes and look good out there. Tom [Brady] gave me a couple of balls, looked pretty good out there.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Celtics, Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, New England Patriots
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