Cavs' Irving already playing beyond his years

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Cavs' Irving already playing beyond his years

BOSTON It shouldn't come as a surprise that one of Kyrie Irving's biggest role models while in high school plays for the Boston Celtics.

The fact that it's Avery Bradley didn't see that coming, did you?

"Avery was one of my favorite players to watch," Irving said. "He competes on every single play."

In the closing moments on Sunday, Irving had an opportunity to do what few ever get to do - win a game and out-duel one of your idols along the way.

Irving, who led all scorers with 26 points, did just that in beating Bradley off the dribble for the game-winning basket in Cleveland's 88-87 come-from-behind win over the Boston Celtics.

"It feels good," Irving said when asked about making the game-winning basket. "Especially, like I said, having the confidence of my teammates. They gave me the ball at the end of the game and trusted me to make that shot."

Bradley had never seen Irving up close until Sunday night.

Like most in attendance, he came away impressed.

"He's a good player; a good point guard," Bradley said. "He's real smart; he's a good player."

Such lofty praise was often doled out on Bradley, one of the top prep players who at one time was considered the best high school player in the country.

Many younger players looked up to him - Irving included.

But Irving is carving out a name for himself in the NBA, already playing at a level that many didn't expect this soon.

He came into Sunday's game ranked among the NBA's rookie leaders in a number of categories, most notably scoring (tops at 17.6 per game), assists (No. 2, 4.8 per game), field goal percentage (No. 2, 50.4 percent) and 3-point percentage (No. 3, 40.4 percent).

"Some so-called experts said I couldn't really shoot coming into the NBA, but it's just motivation for me," Irving said. "There's always been doubts about my game throughout my whole career."

Boston's Doc Rivers is a big fan of Irving's game.

"He's going to be better than a good player; he's going to be a star," Rivers said prior to Sunday's game. "He has a shot at that."

Following the loss, Rivers pointed out how down the stretch, it was Irving who was the biggest difference-maker for the Cavs.

"He dominated the fourth quarter," Rivers said. "He single-handedly, in my opinion, willed that win for them."

Cavaliers head coach Byron Scott knew the Cavs were drafting a talented player. But he acknowledges that Irving has surpassed his expectations in a number of areas at this point in his pro career.

"Most rookies when they come in, especially the time he's played basketball the past year and a half, I expected him to struggle a bit, especially from the field," Scott said. "He surprised me after about four or five games when he really started to get it going. He looked so much more comfortable out there. So I was a little taken from it."

Brady makes 'The Hangover' reference, calls QB group his wolf pack

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Brady makes 'The Hangover' reference, calls QB group his wolf pack

Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are starting to make a habit of this.

After clinching the AFC East title during the regular season, they made sure to grab a picture together that they could throw on their respective social-media pages. They did the same again on Sunday night. 

Sporting their brand new AFC Championship hats -- and Brissett, who didn't dress for the game, in a championship t-shirt -- the trio posed in front of their lockers like the three best friends that anyone could have.

When Brady posted the shot on his Instagram page Monday morning, he captioned it with a speech from the movie "The Hangover," calling Garoppolo and Brissett part of his "wolf pack."

Belichick on Bon Jovi moment during AFC title game: 'He had the place rocking'

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Belichick on Bon Jovi moment during AFC title game: 'He had the place rocking'

After LeGarrette Blount plunged into the end zone from one yard away, giving the Patriots a 27-9 lead over the Steelers in the third quarter of the AFC title game, the Gillette Stadium crowd partied like it was 1989. 

While fans celebrated, the massive in-stadium video board showed Rob Gronkowski, Donnie Wahlberg and Jon Bon Jovi all sharing a booth while Bon Jovi's hit from 30 years ago, "Livin' on a Prayer," blasted over the public-address system. The crowd belted out the words while the man who made them famous orchestrated from his perch.

Of course it caught Bill Belichick's attention.

"I was definitely aware of it," said Belichick, who calls Bon Jovi a friend. "Jon, I've heard him play that song dozens of times. But he had the place rocking . . . Maybe a little more than we did. Pretty impressive."

Belichick and Bon Jovi met while Belichick was coaching with the Giants, where he spent 12 years as an assistant. Bon Jovi's style of music wasn't exactly Giants head coach Bill Parcells' cup of tea, but for some of the younger coaches on the Giants staff, one of the perks of the job was that there was a rock star from Jersey to wanted to hang around the team. 

Thus, a friendship was born. Once last night's game ended with Belichick making his record seventh Super Bowl as a head coach, Bon Jovi came down from his box to celebrate with his pal on the field. 

"He's a great friend," Belichick said. "He's been a great friend for a long time, all the way back into the 80s and we shared a lot of great moments together, including the 1990 Super Bowl in Tampa, when he was in the locker room after the game, taking crazy pictures and stuff like that. Great memories from there. It was great to have Jon here. Always appreciate his great support. It was quite a moment. One you usually don't see at a professional football game so it was special."