Why NBA star Kyrie Irving burned sage earlier than taking part in with the Celtics
(RNS) – Before a preseason NBA game with the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets All-Star Kyrie Irving went down to warm up before the game.
Irving stretched, shot a couple of layups, and hit a couple of three-pointers. He also burned sage in a Native American practice known as smearing.
Irving had a tumultuous two-year stint with the Celtics, where he first promised to re-sign with the team when his contract expired just to run for the nets. And the burning of the sage was a way for him to “purify” the energy of the stadium he once called home.
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The practice also has a personal meaning to the basketball player who has ties to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that his mother, grandparents, and great-grandparents are linked to. He revealed these roots in 2016 when he also expressed solidarity with indigenous efforts to oppose the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Two years later, Irving and his sister Asia Irving were named by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Kyrie Irving returns to TD Garden.
Coverage of # Celtics-Nets starts at 7:30 p.m. on @NBCSBoston with Celtics Pregame Live! pic.twitter.com/7P82E6EqO9
– Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 18, 2020
Some NBA fans have wondered if he “cursed” the Celtics with the ritual, but as Anishinaabe’s knowledge keeper Debra Courchene explained in an “Ask an Elder” video on CBC News, it is blurred “to purify the air around us “.
In many indigenous cultures, blurring can be done with plants that are considered sacred medicine: sage, grass, cedar and tobacco. The practice involves burning the plants and fanning the smoke over a person or room, Courchene told CBC News.
“What it does is I am able to get rid of any negative that I may have ingested and then replace it with that positive energy,” she added.
Sage, in particular, is used to “release what troubles the mind and remove negative energy,” according to Northern College in Ontario, Canada.
Burning sage is a regular practice for Irving according to his teammates, and he has said he wants to blur before any game where it is allowed, both at home and on the go.
Irving said this weekend that he smeared to cleanse the energy and because he “wanted to make sure we were all balanced”.
“It’s for us to stay connected and feel good when we get to work,” he added.
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