MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James dispensed with his menacing black mask at the NBA’s request and switched to a clear protective cover for the Miami Heat’s game Saturday night against the Orlando Magic.
The black mask made its debut Thursday night in James’ first game since he broke his nose. He said he received word from league officials Friday that they wanted him to instead wear something that would allow opponents to see his face.
“It’s not a league rule, but it’s the league’s request that you don’t wear the black one,” James said before Saturday’s game. “The reasons they told me didn’t make sense to me, but I’m just a player. I will abide by the request.”
James scored 20 points to help the Heat earn their seventh consecutive victory, 112-98.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke Friday with Nick Arison, son of the team owner, about the matter. James said he didn’t want to make a big issue of it.
“I’m good with the NBA,” James said with a smile. “I am not against the NBA. I had a request, and I fulfilled it.”
Teammate Dwyane Wade said he warned James the league would give the black mask a thumbs-down.
“I told him after Thursday’s game, ‘You have fun, because it ain’t happening the next game,’” Wade said. “It was fun. A lot of attention, a lot of T-shirts are going to be made, a lot of Instagram posts. Now we move on to something else.”
James agreed that the black mask was a marketing success, with feedback he received universally positive. He said he may give the mask to charity so it can be auctioned off.
“Everyone loved it,” James said. “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.”
Not even league officials.
“I think they loved it as well,” James said.