On Wednesday's Tonight Show (airdate: 12/23/09), Lakers basketball player Derek Fisher was a guest. Conan O'Brien asked Fisher about coach Phil Jackson's unusual motivational techniques. Fisher said that when the team starts losing, Jackson wafts sage smoke over the locker room to get rid of "evil spirits." Conan asked if that worked, laughing, and Fisher tactfully noted that Jackson has won 10 championship rings. They concluded Jackson must know what he's doing.
Watch the exchange in the first 1:45 of the video below:
Although neither person identified the practice, it's obviously a Native smudging ceremony. Jackson is familiar with Native lore and has used it before in his coaching.
The point I made way back in Indian Comics Irregular #23, Bulls Won with an Indian Assist (Feb. 2000), still holds. Native beliefs and practices are one route to success.
Incidentally, I'm still curious about O'Brien's interest in multicultural subjects. He tackles black, Hispanic, and even Native issues fairly often. He approaches them like a naive American, and sometimes stumbles over stereotypes, but his heart seems to be in the right place.
For more on the subject, see First Thanksgiving on Tonight Show and Native Float Joke on Tonight Show.