Kyrie Irving burns sage around court before return to TD Garden with Nets

Ryan Young
·Writer
·3 min read

Kyrie Irving returned to TD Garden on Friday night for his first matchup in Boston since he left the Celtics for Brooklyn.

Yet before he took the court for the Nets’ 113-89 preseason win against the Celtics, Irving had to cleanse the arena.

Kyrie Irving burns sage at TD Garden

Irving, before warming up on Friday, circled the court while burning sage.

Burning sage, or smudging, is a practice often used by Native Americans and other indigenous groups to cleanse something, be that a person or a place, and bring positive energy.

Irving has very strong indigenous roots himself. His mother was born into the Standing Rock Sioux tribe before she was adopted. He was later invited into the tribe and given the Lakota name Little Mountain, or “Hela” in the Lakota language.

While it’s an unusual sight to see before an NBA game, Irving’s teammate Kevin Durant wasn’t surprised.

“That’s his thing,” Durant said on ESPN. “Kyrie probably sages his room before he plays 2K when he gets home. That’s just what he does.”

It was just a preseason game on Friday night, but the ritual seemed to work. Irving finished the night with 17 points and seven rebounds while shooting 7-of-15 from the field in the 24-point win. Durant added 25 points and six rebounds, and helped them secure a double-digit lead almost instantly.

Though it was the first time that people really noticed him burning sage in an arena before a game, Irving said he did it for their first preseason game on Sunday.

“Honestly I did it before the first preseason game we did [at the Barclays Center],” Irving said in the YES Network. “So every game, definitely cleansing the energy in here, make sure we feel good as a team.

“[I] don’t want to disrespect any other team. Some people would think I was doing some ritual stuff before the game. But nah, it’s just sage from my native culture. Just making sure we cleanse the energy in here and we play well, and I want everybody to stay safe, not just my teammates.”

Looks like Irving’s new pregame routine is here to stay, too.

“I plan to sage almost every game if the opposing team will allow me to,” Irving said, via ESPN’s Malika Andrews. “But literally, it’s just more or less for us to stay connected and for us to feel great about going to work and feeling safe and provided for form our ancestors.”

Nets star Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving burned sage before their preseason game in Boston on Friday night. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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