There are couple of reasons why basketball players wear masks: precaution, play with face injuries and make a statement on the court.
When playing basketball, like any other sports, many things can happen. We have seen some NBA pros and other basketball players wearing masks on court. But what could be the possible reasons? Does wearing masks provide them with extra precaution or protection from occasional injuries and bruises from other players’ hands, elbows and so on? If you’re wondering why basketball players wear masks, keep reading.
Top 3 Reasons Why Basketball Players Wear Masks
Basketball players that wear face masks believe that it’s safer to prevent injuries than getting one. Perhaps those who never had any injuries don’t care about this. But for those players who did, feel they really should. We couldn’t agree more.
Play with face injuries
Accidents happen on and off the court. Some players get their elbows or knees bruised, sometimes on their face. The mask helps protect their face from getting bruised or hit. For instance, Mike Conley had a fractured facial bone, and then he wore a mask to speed up his recovery.
Make a statement on the court
When players wear masks on the court, it means different things to fans and opponent players. To some fans, it looks cool. And to an opponent, it seems intimidating. So, it shouldn’t be hard to understand how Kobe stole the show in 2012 when he switched from a clear to a black face mask. It has become a signature feature also that distinguishes them from other NBA players.
Famous Basketball Players That Wore Masks
Let’s take you through a list of some basketball players that took the mask seriously:
In 2014, LeBron’s black carbon-fiber mask was a hit among fans, but the NBA requested he wear a clear mask to protect his then-broken nose. Even so, LeBron managed to be LeBron, scoring 31 points on 13-of-19 shooting in a game Feb. 27 against the New York Knicks. The black mask earned him the nickname “Dark Knight.”
Mask or no mask, Kobe is going to score. But with the mask, he put up 38 points and eight rebounds in a game against the Sacramento Kings on March 2, 2012. The mask sold for over $50,000 for charity.
After being elbowed in the nose by San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green during his season in 2011 to 2012, Paul wore a mask for several weeks to protect his face.
Rip made wearing the mask his own thing. Despite breaking his nose during the 2003-2004 NBA season, Hamilton led the Detroit Pistons’ championship team in scoring with 17.6 points per game. It has become synonymous with him that he went on wearing the mask the rest of his career.
After his jaw was broken, the mask affected Irving in a good way. The Cavaliers’ point guard had what was at the time a career-high 41 points, plus five rebounds and five assists against the Knicks on Dec. 15, 2012.
McGrady needed to wear a protective mask in 2006 when he played for the Houston Rockets after taking an accidental elbow to the nose from former NBA player Jake Voskuhl.
Although it was for a short amount of time, Mourning wore a mask in 1998 to protect his fractured cheekbone.
It is fitting that Laimbeer, one of the more physical players in the history of the NBA, needed to wear a mask during his career.
When Jason Terry was a member of the Dallas Mavericks, he had to hop on the runway wearing a protective mask for a stretch of games during the 2009-2010 season.
As a member of the Phoenix Suns, Johnson suffered an orbital fracture during a second-round playoff game against the Mavericks. He missed the rest of that series, but returned in Game 3 of the 2005 Western Conference finals against the eventual NBA champion Spurs.
The Pistons had two masked men in 2008 when McDyess joined Hamilton as a result of a broken nose.
When Martin was playing at an All-Star level in 2002, the forward broke his nose during a game against the Miami Heat, forcing him to protect his face.
After former Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson’s hand hit Bogut in the face during a game in 2005, Bogut rocked the protective mask for a stretch of games as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Broken nose is a common reason why basketball players are wearing protective masks. Szczerbiak wore his mask because of one during a 2009 game against the Knicks.
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Russel was doing his thing on the court when his teammate, Andre Robinson, accidentally kneed him right in the face. Russel had no other option than to wear a clear mask to speed up the healing process. Fortunately, he was able to nail 49 solid points in one game with his mask.
In 2018, Joel smashed into his teammate Markelle Fultz. The incident resulted in damage that required surgery to fix. After the surgery, he had to wear a face mask to speed up recovery.
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Custom Fit vs One Size Fits All: Which is better?
The generic one size fits all may be a good choice if you only have to wear the mask for a couple of weeks and are on a tight budget. These masks may have limitations such as comfort, every person’s face structure is different and the dimension of the mask may fit differently depending on who is wearing it.
Materials of the mask may not be the highest quality such as the velcro straps or the face mask itself causing you to feel uncomfortable. Anyways, you can wear it when you are just playing then take it off at the free-throw line by moving it to your forehead and removing it when you’re sitting on the bench.
If you know that you have to wear a face mask for a while then you may look at getting one that is custom-fitted. It will cost more money but they will make sure it is as comfortable as it can be. This is a better option than the generic one-size-fits-all mask. If you are a taller bigger player, those generic masks may not fit your face properly and you may still choose this option.
The good thing about custom-fit masks is that they will take a mold of your face and adjust anything they need to for maximum comfort.
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Getting a face mask has become a thing in basketball especially when players sustained an injury in the court. It saves them from occasional bruises and injuries. It also helped them speed up the healing process when they get one. Sometimes, they just look cool (like superheroes on the court) with it.
What are your thoughts about the idea behind basketball players wearing a mask? Who’s your favorite mask-wearing basketball player? Feel free to share them in the comments below!