Kawhi Leonard became the latest NBA player to don a mask on the court as he returned for the LA Clippers' game against the Portland Trail Blazers. He was seen wearing a clear mask that prominently covers his mouth. He's not the first person to step on the court with a mask. So the question arises, why do NBA players wear masks?
NBA players wearing masks
The main reason why NBA players wear masks is to protect their faces from accidental hits and nudges that could aggravate an existing facial condition. In a league as physical as the NBA, it's very easy to get hit on the face while contesting for rebounds underneath the basket or while driving to the rim. In most cases, players have worn masks while on the court for protection against nose injuries.
The masks definitely make the player uncomfortable, but it's the only way to accelerate the recovery process while getting clearance to participate in games.
In Kawhi Leonard's case, he has a face mask specifically covering the lower part of his face to prevent the aggravation of the mouth laceration he suffered against the Denver Nuggets on Friday. Teammate Serge Ibaka inadvertently hit him on the face while going for a rebound.
Past cases of NBA players wearing masks
Several NBA players have had to wear masks in the past in order to participate in crucial games. Kobe Bryant had to wear a mask back in 2012 when he suffered a nasal fracture after a hard play by Dwyane Wade in the All-Star Game.
Russell Westbrook took an accidental knee to the face from then-teammate Andre Roberson back in 2015 and had to wear a mask in the days that followed. LeBron James is well-remembered for wearing a black face mask back in 2014.
Published 31 Dec 2020, 09:45 IST