LeBron James swaps black mask for clear one at request of NBA

LeBron James claims the black, carbon-fiber mask is more comfortable than the clear shield.
(Associated Press and McClatchy-Tribune)

LeBron James knows that what’s in the best interest of the NBA is usually in his best interest, which probably is why he complied with the league’s request to wear a clear mask to protect his broken nose Saturday night rather than the cooler-looking black one he wore Thursday.

No need for the Miami Heat forward to thumb his nose at the NBA, which prefers that players wear clear masks and goggles when protecting their faces and eyes.

“It’s not a league rule, but it’s the league’s request that you don’t wear the black one,” James told reporters before a 112-98 victory over the Orlando Magic in Miami on Saturday. “The reasons they told me didn’t make sense to me, but I’m just a player. I will abide by the request.”

Ethan J. Skolnick of Bleacher Report surmised that the NBA believes the cool-looking black mask makes it harder for opponents to read James’ eyes, which the four-time MVP alluded to Saturday.


“As long as it’s transparent,” James said of the mask. “As long as they can see my face ... my opponents. Just as long as it’s not black.”

Teammate Dwyane Wade predicted the black mask was a one-and-done experiment. “I told him after Thursday’s game, ‘You have fun, because it ain’t happening the next game,’” Wade said.

Added Miami forward Shane Battier: “Only LeBron can make breaking your nose look cool.”

James scored 31 points on 13-for-19 shooting with the dark mask Thursday in a 108-82 victory over the New York Knicks. In the rout of Orlando, James had 20 points, making eight of 12 shots from the field and four of five free throws.


“I’m good with the NBA,” James said. “I am not against the NBA. I had a request, and I fulfilled it.”