James becomes latest in long line of hoopsters to wear a mask
Jan. 3, 2005 --LeBron James took the court Monday against the Bobcats wearing a protective face mask, and after a slow start proceeded to score a game-high 26 points in the Cavaliers' 94-83 victory.
Perhaps James got some advice from teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas on how to adjust to the new equipment. Ilgauskas is one of many NBA -- and WNBA -- players to have sought protection behind a thin piece of plastic. Below is a look at some players who have sported the look over the years, as well as a few variations on the now-standard clear plastic safeguard.
LeBron James: No. 23 got used to the extra gear pretty quick; he shot 11-of-19 from the field Jan. 3 in his first game sporting it.
(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images/NBAE)
Richard Hamilton: Hamilton has continued to wear a protective mask to prevent future injuries. Rip rode his clear plastic all the way to the 2004 NBA Championship.
Sue Bird: Like Hamilton, Bird claimed a championship this year behind a plastic barrier. Bird and her Seattle Storm teammates captured the 2004 WNBA Championship.
(Jeff Reinking/NBAE/Getty Images)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas: Ilgauskas was fitted with a mask in March 2004 after suffering a broken nose.
(David Liam Kyle/NBAE/Getty Images)
Brian Cardinal: In early 2004, Cardinal's shooting took a dip during an 11-game stretch behind the mask, prompting him to scrap it early than expected.
(Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
Jelani McCoy: An elbow to the face forced Jelani McCoy to undergo surgery in Feb. 2003.
Alonzo Mourning: Although a rare occurrence, Alonzo Mourning needed a little help to protect against the physical play of the NBA in 1998.
(Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images/NBAE)
Bill Laimbeer: No stranger to an elbow -- usually on the delivering end -- Laimbeer always seemed to sport a shiner or broken nose.
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
Brandon Williams: During a three-game stint with the Spurs in the 1998-99 season, Brandon Williams donned this variaton on the now-common clear plastic mask.
(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images/NBAE)
Harold Pressley: It wasn't so much a mask that Pressley relied on for protection in 1988.
(Mike Powell/Getty Images/NBAE)