LeBron James yields to NBA request, switches to clear mask

Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) adjusts his mask before a game against the Orlando Magic.

Robert Mayer/Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

MIAMI — LeBron James reluctantly sported a clear mask Saturday night to protect his broken nose against the Orlando Magic.

James had worn a carbon-fiber black mask Thursday night during a win against the New York Knicks. That was his first game after suffering the injury in a victory at Oklahoma City a week earlier.

The NBA asked James to wear a transparent mask.

"It’s not a league rule, but it’s a league request," James said before tip-off against the Magic at AmericanAirlines Arena. "I didn’t agree with their reasons, but I’ll do it."

Asked by FOX Sports Florida after Thursday night’s game if he had sought league approval for the black mask, James answered: "No, I didn’t have to get it cleared — I don’t think it’s in the rulebook that says what color you can wear."

But the NBA apparently felt differently. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the NBA contacted Nick Arison, son of team owner Micky, to say it wanted James to wear a transparent mask.

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"As long as my opponents can see my face," James said. "For reasons they told me, it didn’t make sense to me. But hey, I’m just a player … and I will abide."

That the NBA had issues with James’ black mask didn’t surprise Dwyane Wade, who several years ago was told he couldn’t wear tinted goggles while dealing with a migraine.

"I knew it was coming," Wade said. "I told him after the (Knicks) game that ain’t happening next game.

"You have fun. You’re not going to get to do that the next game."

Miami’s Chris Bosh called James "Batman" after the win against New York. The Heat even promoted James black mask T-shirts.

"I got stuff saying I looked menacing, I looked like a superhero, that it was amazing," James said. "Nobody said it looked terrible."

"It was good, it was fun," Wade said. "A lot of T-shirts, a lot of Instagram posts. Now we move on to something else."

Something James did reluctantly.

"I’m not against the NBA. They had a request and I fulfilled it," he said. "Let’s just leave it at that."

You can follow Charlie McCarthy on Twitter @mccarthy_chas or email him at mac1763@bellsouth.net.