Miami’s LeBron James gives mask a try in practice
MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James says his new protective mask is hot, uncomfortable and prone to fogging up. Plus, as teammate Dwyane Wade pointed out, it looks weird.
So James is in the market for design suggestions.
“I’ve been talking to Marvel Comics for the last couple of days, and DC Comics, to try to come up with one of the greatest masks of all time,” James said with a chuckle Wednesday. “So we’ll see what happens.”
James spoke after trying out his new mask for the first time in practice. He plans to use it Thursday when the Miami Heat play the New York Knicks.
The game will be the first for James since he broke his nose last Thursday in a victory at Oklahoma City. He and his mask took part in contact drills Wednesday, and coach Erik Spoelstra was encouraged by James’ progress.
“He’ll give it a shot Thursday,” Spoelstra said. “He was able to go through today without any hiccups. But he also didn’t take a hit today.”
Given James’ aggressive style of play, he’s bound to receive an inadvertent blow to the face sooner or later. Thus the mask.
“It lessens the impact,” said James, who wore a mask 10 years ago to protect a broken cheek. “You can still feel it, because the nose is still tender. But it definitely lessens the pain.”
James had removed his clear mask by the time media were admitted to the gym for the end of practice, but teammates provided a description.
“He looked like every other player in a mask — it looks weird,” Wade said. “He looks like the LeBron that wore a mask the first time, only about 30 pounds heavier, a little more muscular, a little less hair.”
James was on a roll when hurt. On Thursday he’ll try for his fifth consecutive 30-point game, which would be the second-longest such streak in Heat history.
The Heat have won five consecutive games and trail Eastern Conference leader Indiana by one game. But they’ve been prone to stumble against weak opponents, and their next three games are at home against team with losing records — the Knicks, Magic and Bobcats.
The injury-plagued Knicks have lost their past three games, and in their season of upheaval, the latest jarring development came Tuesday. Point guard Raymond Felton was arraigned on two felony weapons possession charges following an early-morning arrest.
After going 54-28 last season, the Knicks are 21-36.
“They haven’t forgotten how to play,” Spoelstra said. “They’ve been injury-riddled all year long, and that’s tough to deal with. That adversity coming into our game is irrelevant. I’m sure they’ll be ready.”
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