2020-21 Kia Season Preview
Kyrie Irving cleanses court in return to Boston
Nets All-Star and former Celtic appeared to perform a spiritual ritual on the new Boston Garden court pregame Friday.
Jimmy Golen | The Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving performed a Native American ritual to “cleanse the energy” at the TD Garden on Friday night before taking the court he used to call home for the first time since leaving the Celtics.
Waving a smoldering bundle of sage — a practice known as “smudging” — Irving circled the iconic parquet floor during pregame warmups before snuffing it out in an abalone shell.
“It just comes from a lot of native tribes,” Irving explained after scoring 17 points to help the Nets beat Boston 113-89 in the teams’ final exhibition game. “Just cleanse the energy, want to make sure that we’re all balanced.”
According to WebMD, Native Americans burn sage, a perennial subshrub in the mint family, “as part of a spiritual ritual to cleanse a person or space, and to promote healing and wisdom.” Irving’s mother, Elizabeth, was a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and Kyrie Irving was welcomed into the tribe in a 2018 ceremony.
Irving said he adopted the practice from his ancestors and plans to do it before games in Brooklyn and on the road, where the opponents will allow it.
“It’s for us to stay connected, and for us to feel good about coming to work,” he said.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) December 19, 2020
A six-time All-Star, Irving played for the Celtics for two seasons before opting out of his contract and becoming a free agent. He was loudly heckled when he returned with the Nets that November, but he did not play because of a sore shoulder.
There were no fans in the building on Friday night because of the pandemic protocols. But Irving stayed on the floor after the game to hug his former teammates and the Celtics staff.
Irving gave his jersey to Celtics forward Robert Williams III and left with Jayson Tatum’s Celtics jersey.