Prior to tip-off at the TD Garden in Boston, Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving performed a Native American ritual to "cleanse the energy" of the arena he hadn't played in since leaving the Celtics in the 2019 offseason.
Cameras depicted Irving walking around the perimeter of the court itself, burning sage -- a routine called smudging -- waving his sage bundle as he made his way to each corner of the court and greeted some old friends as he was doing it.
"It just comes from a lot of native tribes, being able to see the energy, make sure that we're all balanced," Irving said postgame of the ritual. "When you come into this job, you come into this place, it's not anything that I don't do at home that I did today...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 from my ancestors. I'm not gonna bring too much spirituality into basketball, but yeah, it's part of my native culture and where I'm from."
Irving told the media following the Nets' 113-98 win over the Celtics that he plans on saging all season long if the opposing teams and arenas allow him to.
"That's his thing," Durant told ESPN's Cassidy Hubbarth. "Kyrie probably sages his room before he plays 2K when he gets home. That's just what he does. I think that gives us good energy. [He] does it in the locker room. That's his thing, and we all respect him and we respect his methods. He comes out here and plays extremely hard for us."