It turns out LeBron James can play basketball just as well with a clear mask as a black one. Who would have guessed?
The NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver requested James ditch the (cool) black mask he wore Thursday against the Knicks, so he did Saturday night in an easy win over the Magic.
The clear mask seemed to bug James a little more than the black one — he frequently lifted it up on his forehead during breaks on court — but he still managed to put up 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in just 31 minutes of action.
Apparently the league has a policy, though not a rule, that players must wear a clear mask when they have a broken nose and want to play. The league said the policy exists so the player's face can be seen. My guess is they just don't want everybody to start channeling Kane or Mankind on a nightly basis.
"It is our understanding LeBron used the black mask because a clear one he was comfortable with wasn't ready," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said Friday.
Also, it looked really cool. And plenty of people, including the folks at the New York Post and New York Daily News had fun with it on cover.
Way late with this, but just because the Daily News back page today with LeBron was so awesome... Here it is. pic.twitter.com/YSw2x4FmAQ— Amara Grautski (@AmaraGrautski) March 1, 2014
James seemed miffed by the whole thing after Saturday's win, but didn't want to rock the boat.
"I don't know if I expected it, but I'm not surprised," James said. "It's not a league rule, but it's the league's request that you don't wear the black one. For the reasons that they told me, it didn't make sense to me. But hey, I'm just a player in this league and I will abide by this request — I'm not even going to say rule, but request — by the NBA."
I guess we can at least take comfort in the fact he wasn't fined. The NFL would've set him back $50,000 probably.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports. He only wears masks at Halloween parties or the occasional ball.