LeBron James and His ‘Menacing’ Black Mask: Did It Give Him That Much of a Basketball Edge?

Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski

MIAMI (AP) — But LeBron James has dispensed with his “menacing” black mask at the NBA’s request and is wearing a clear protective cover for the Miami Heat’s game Saturday against the Orlando Magic.

Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) adjusts his mask during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks in Miami, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. (Image source: AP/Alan Diaz)

The black mask made its debut Thursday in James’ first game since he broke his nose. Whatever its apparent super-powers, something worked: James hit his first four shots and finished with 31 points in a 108-82 win over the New York Knicks.

“It was awesome,” teammate Chris Bosh told the Palm Beach Post. “He played like Batman out there. It was great… I’m glad he put a little bit of flavor into it. Clear is boring. No offense to anybody that wears a clear mask. Gotta have a little fun with it sometimes. If you want to wear a black mask and look crazy, you should do it.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he liked that the black mask made James look “menacing,” according to the Palm Beach Post.

James said he received word from league officials Friday that they wanted him to instead wear something that would allow opponents to see his face. James said he didn’t want to make a big issue of it; teammate Dwyane Wade said he warned James the league would give the black mask a thumbs-down.

James agreed that the black mask was a marketing success, the AP reported, adding that he may give the mask to charity so it can be auctioned off.

“Everyone loved it,” James told the AP. “I got stuff, from ‘You look very menacing,’ to ‘You look like a superhero,’ to ‘You look amazing.’ A little bit of everything. No one told me it was terrible.”