James must switch masks if alternative is now ready.
Miami Heat star LeBron James has been asked to discard his black protective mask for a clear replacement by the NBA, with reports suggesting he will appeal.
The 29-year-old wore the carbon-fibre mask to protect his broken nose during Thursday’s win over the New York Knicks, but the league has now requested for him to switch to a more traditional clear mask for when the Heat take on the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
“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.
James is understood to be appealing the decision, particularly due to the fact that he likes the lightness and fit of it, while it also matched the Heat’s black throwback uniforms.
The Heat star has previously complained about the clear masks, as they have a tendency to fog up and distract him, while he had 31 points on 13-of-19 shooting in his outing with the black mask.
Furthermore, it proved to be a huge hit amongst fans as the franchise even started selling t-shirts with a masked James on them, while teammate Shane Battier insisted that “only LeBron can make breaking your nose look cool”.
Nevertheless, the request falls in line with previous policy, as players that have worn black masks have been asked to switch to clear ones.
Kyrie Irving was asked the same last season after he suffered a broken bone in his face, while Kobe Bryant had to switch in 2012 as soon as a clear mask was made available.
James has reportedly practiced in a clear mask for two days prior to switching to the black version, but will now have to return back ahead of Saturday’s tip-off if the league are not willing to consider a change.