BOSTON — Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, smudged the TD Garden basketball court on Friday before playing the NBA's Celtics and plans to cleanse future basketball courts during the season.
Irving scored 17 points in the 113-89 exhibition win. The regular season begins Tuesday.
“It just comes from a lot of Native tribes,” Irving said “Just cleanse the energy, want to make sure that we’re all balanced.”
Irving’s late mother, Elizabeth, was a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and Kyrie Irving was welcomed into the tribe in a 2018 ceremony where he received the name Little Mountain. Since the start of the pandemic, Irving has donated supplies to the tribe, including food and face masks.
Irving said he plans to continue to smudge courts 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.
Kevin Durant, Irving's Brooklyn teammate, told ESPN that Irving smudging gives the team "good" energy.
"He does it in the locker room," Durant said. "That's his thing, and we all respect him. We respect his method, and he comes out here and plays extremely hard for us."
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.
Indian Country Today contributed to this report.