Kyrie Irving has proven to be one of the more thoughtful players in the NBA. He often receives criticism for some of the things he says and does, but, most of the time, it seems to come from a good place. However, Irving is now not only showing his thoughtfulness, but he is also showing a little bit of his spirituality. He is doing so through his new pre-game ritual, too.
Kyrie Irving has become one of the best guards in the NBA
Kyrie Irving went to the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. He then had some excellent seasons with the Cavaliers to start his career. He won the 2011-12 Rookie of the Year award before earning All-Star selections in each of his next three seasons.
In 2014-15, though, LeBron James returned to the Cavaliers, and James, Irving, and Kevin Love ultimately formed a super team. The Cavs even ended up reaching the NBA Finals in 2014-15, too. Love, though, suffered an injury in the playoffs, and Irving suffered an injury during the Finals. This led to the Cavs losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
However, during the 2015-16 season, the Cavaliers went back to the NBA Finals, and, after falling behind 3-1 in the series to the 73-win Warriors, the Cavs ultimately won the series in seven games to win the championship.
Irving played for the Cavaliers again in 2016-17 and had a great season. He averaged 25.2 points per game and 5.8 assists. His points-per-game average was a career-high for a season in which played in more than 20 games, too. However, the Cavaliers lost in the Finals that year, and Irving then got traded to the Boston Celtics in the offseason.
He burned sage before the Brooklyn Nets’ preseason game
The Nets played the Boston Celtics in the preseason on Dec. 18, and they ultimately won 113-89. Irving ended up recording 17 points, five assists, and seven rebounds in 28 minutes, too.
Before the game, though, Irving burned sage, which, according to ESPN, is known as “smudging.”
Many people wondered if it was because Irving was playing in Boston, the city he played in for two seasons before joining the Nets. That doesn’t appear to be the reason, why, though.
Kyrie Irving expands on his new pre-game ritual
Irving’s mother, Elizabeth, was a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, according to ESPN. However, Irving did not know her very well. She passed away when he was just four years old, ESPN reported. He has since embraced his heritage, though, as he was also inducted into the tribe that his mother was born into.
Now, he is continuing to embrace that Native American heritage by burning sage.
“It just comes from a lot of native tribes,” Irving said after the preseason game against the Boston Celtics, according to ESPN. “Being able to sage, just cleanse the energy, make sure that we’re all balanced. When we come into this job, we come into this place, it’s not anything that I don’t do at home that I did today. I saged last game, and I plan to sage almost every game if the opposing team will allow me to.”
He continued: “But, literally, it’s 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 our ancestors. I’m not going to bring too much of the spirituality into basketball, but yeah, it’s part of my native culture where I’m from.”
Kevin Durant also explained that this is “what [Irving] does.”
“That’s his thing. Kyrie probably sages his room before he plays 2K when he gets home,” Durant said to ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth, per ESPN. “That’s just what he does. That gives us good energy. He does it in the locker room. That’s his thing, and we all respect him. We respect his method, and he comes out here and plays extremely hard for us.”
If the ritual had anything to do with how the Nets played against the Celtics, Brooklyn is going to be tough to beat this year.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference