Kyrie Irving cleanses court in return to Boston

Sports

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) drives against Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (7) during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

BOSTON (AP) — Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving appeared to perform a spiritual ritual on the new Boston Garden court on Friday night before he played in the arena for the first time since leaving the Celtics.

Irving circled the iconic parquet floor during pregame warmups waving around a burning substance that appeared to be sage. He then snuffed out the plant in a dish.

According to WebMD, Native Americans burn sage — a practice known as smudging — “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.

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 sat out with an injury during the Nets’ visit that November.

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