Morning sports update: Paul Pierce says Celtics’ leadership ‘starts and ends’ with Kyrie Irving

Also: The Patriots made a decision regarding Josh Gordon, Trey Flowers's goodbye to New England, and a successful hidden ball trick.

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving's leadership was analyzed in recent comments from former Celtic Paul Pierce. –AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The Celtics fell to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Monday night, 140-115. The loss ended Boston’s three-game winning streak.

The Bruins play the Blue Jackets this evening in Columbus at 7 p.m.

Also this evening, the Northeastern men’s basketball team faces Hofstra in the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association conference tournament at 7 p.m. The winner secures a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Paul Pierce on Kyrie Irving’s leadership: If there’s someone who knows what it’s like to try and lead a Celtics team, it’s Paul Pierce. The 2008 NBA Finals MVP went through a journey of his own before winning a championship in Boston. Pierce recognizes the struggles that Kyrie Irving is enduring as the 2019 Celtics try to find consistency.

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“I think it starts with him and ends with him,” Irving told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “I mean, he has to own up to it. He’s the guy that’s leading everything. He controls the Celtics’ destiny.”

“It’s everything – on and off the court,” Pierce continued. “If he’s their leader and you see their leader doing the things he does with the media talks and sideline stuff and practice stuff, then it just kind of flows to the team. One weeks he’s happy; one week he’s this way. And that’s the way the team’s been, you know?

Pierce noted that he doesn’t blame Irving, because this is a new situation for him.

“But I don’t think it’s really his fault,” said Pierce, “because this is the first time he’s been in this position. He’s been thrown in this, and he’s learning. That’s why he’s having talks with LeBron. That’s why he talking to his pops. He’s learning to see what it is to lead as he goes, and you can see the frustration.”

Trivia: Several Red Sox players have played in Japan either before or after their time in Boston (Ryan Brasier, for example). In one particular case, however, a player ended up in Boston because of an unconventional front office move that prevented him from going to Japan. Which former player was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox – violating a so-called “gentlemen’s agreement” among MLB clubs – as he was on his way to joining the Chunichi Dragons?

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Hint: He was a member of the 2004 Red Sox.

More from Boston.com:

The Patriots placed a restricted free agent tender on Josh Gordon: Though he’s again suspended by the NFL, Josh Gordon could potentially be reinstated by Roger Goodell. If that happens, the Patriots have taken steps to ensure he’s (most likely) still in New England. [The Boston Globe]

After agreeing to sign with the Lions, Trey Flowers posted a goodbye to Patriots fans:

An update on Stephen Gostkowski:

Miguel Cabrera pulled off the hidden ball trick in a spring training game:

On this day: In 1985, Larry Bird dropped 60 points on the Hawks. In 2017, Boston.com columnist Chad Finn put together an oral history of this game, and it’s worth a re-read.

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Also on this day, in 2011, the Connecticut men’s basketball team completed a remarkable run to win the Big East Conference Tournament. UConn entered the tournament ninth in the Big East, with 9-9 conference record (21-9 overall).

On the strength of improved team defense, and the electric ability of Kemba Walker, the Huskies won four games in four days to improbably reach the final against Louisville. This included an epic step-back jumper at the buzzer by Walker to defeat top-seeded Pittsburgh.

In the final, Jim Calhoun’s Connecticut ground out a win against Rick Pitino’s Louisville, 69-66. Five wins in five days. The only thing more impressive was that Walker and his teammates immediately jumped into and won the ensuing NCAA Tournament, completing a string of 11 straight victories to close out the championship season.

Daily highlight: Kyrie doing Kyrie things.

Trivia answer: Kevin Millar.