The love for the game of basketball is very high among people. The sport involves a lot more than one can notice. A well-crafted strategy and strength are essential to winning the game, along with the right protection.
NBA players have a huge fan following and if you’re one such fan, then you may have noticed all the little details about their sporty look. They wear different kinds of protective gear which is, at the same time, uncompromising on their style statement. These gears include knee pads, compression tights, sleeves, masks, etc.
Basketball is a game that involves close physical contact. In such a scenario, injuries are quite common. The injury can happen to any part of the body and the face is one very crucial part to protect. Some of you must think that why do basketball players wear masks? The answer is to protect the face, especially the nose from injury or further damage.
In the following article, we will help you understand the purpose of the why do basketball players wear masks?. We will also look into how masks became an important element of the overall fashion statement of these players.
- 1 What is a basketball mask?
- 2 How was the basketball mask introduced into the game?
- 3 What are the different types of basketball face mask?
- 4 why do basketball players wear masks? and What Are The Major Purposes ?
- 5 NBA players who rocked the basketball face mask like a pro
- 6 Conclusion
What is a basketball mask?
A basketball mask is basically a protective gear that is worn by players on their faces. This mask can be made of any material that does not cause any discomfort to the wearer. These are often clear plastic masks but sometimes they have a dramatic look.
These face masks act like a guard or helmet that is aimed at protecting the face of the player from any injury. Another purpose of a mask is to safeguard a pre-existing facial contusion or any broken bone. Doctors highly recommend a protective face mask for all the players as any injury to the bone can cause severe repercussions.
The material out of which the mask is made depends on the manufacturing company. Some masks are made of hard plastic, which is usually sold with a different name. Carbon fiber is another material used for making lightweight masks that are better at resisting impacts. There are some other masks that are made of medical-grade polycarbonate that is more shatterproof.
Great care is taken while designing the masks so as not to obstruct the vision of the player. Players use their peripheral vision while deciding their move. Manufacturers understand this and they design the masks that do end up giving a tunnel vision.
These masks vary in shapes and coverage. They also come with different types of closing straps. NBA players have been seen sporting solid-colored masks as well as the transparent ones.
How was the basketball mask introduced into the game?
We generally invent things with the specific needs that emerge. Similarly, the need to wear protective gear on the face was felt by the NBA players only after one of them faced a serious injury. The player was Bill Laimbeer, the center player of the team Detroit Pistons.
Laimbeer sustained a severe injury on the face after getting hit by the elbow of a teammate. This happened in one of his matches in 1990. After the checkup, it was found that he needed to stay out of the court for nearly a month.
This was a serious situation as the team needed Laimbeer much in the games because of his strong performance. A desperate search was made by the team for someone who could save them from losing him. The search ended in Detroit, where they found an orthotist named Gerald McHale.
McHale worked hard to come up with an idea of making a mask designed according to the face of Laimbeer. This mask would cover and protect the injured area temporarily until he heals back. The outcome of this idea was amazing and Laimbeer played outperformed himself with the mask on.
People were surprised by his amazing comeback and couldn’t even notice if he was actually injured. From that time onwards, more players started including masks into their sports outfit. The use became so popular that recently, the NBA has to come up with certain regulations regarding the use of a basketball face mask.
What are the different types of basketball face mask?
You must be wondering if the masks have a set type of built. Generally, there are two categories of masks available in the market. What you choose will depend upon the budget and preference.
1. Custom-fit masks: As can be guessed from the name, the masks are specially designed according to the facial cut of the players. This inevitably means that they are for the use of that particular player for which it is designed. These masks come along with supreme comfort as they fit nicely on the face and also look very stylish as you may want to design them.
A customized basketball face mask is more preferred by the NBA players as they can afford one. It is expensive and any regular player or trainee may not be able to buy it. In case of injuries, they are the better option due to their comfortable fit.
2. Generic masks: These masks are designed on the basis of the ‘one size fits all’ principle. They will serve the purpose well if you are tight on budget and you need to wear it for a limited period of time. The masks do not promise the best of comfort because of their built.
The masks fit differently on different faces and may thus cause problems. The material may be of inferior quality and you may also feel irritation due to the Velcro closing. You may also feel hot on the face while wearing the mask.
Choosing between these two categories of basketball mask may not be very difficult as you just have to look at your budget primarily. The custom ones are expensive and take time to get designed, so if you have the money and time to spare, then you can go for them. It’s not like all the generic masks are a bad fit; they come in different sizes and you can choose the best fit.
why do basketball players wear masks? and What Are The Major Purposes ?
As we have seen, the main intention behind the creation of the mask was to protect the injured area from further damage. With the growth in popularity, the masks came to be used for several other purposes. Many of you must have been thinking that the masks are just for a fun or rather style purpose, but the actual reasons are much more genuine.
The basketball masks are primarily used for three purposes-
A careless blow from an elbow can cause a severe nose breakage. Once a nose gets broken, the treatment of it is very difficult. It has to happen within the initial two weeks of the injury where the doctor aligns the bone of the nose.
These injuries happen to the NBA players and this can be the prime motivation for them to guard themselves by wearing a mask. It’s not like that all NBA players wear masks. However, those who prefer safety over risk or may have already suffered a broken jaw definitely understand the importance of a basketball face mask.
Injuries can have a detrimental impact on the career of the players and performance. Wearing the masks gives them a sense of security and they can play with more confidence.
Protect and heal injuries
Until the masks were invented, the injured players only had the option of sitting outside and wait for recovery before they could play again. However, they must return for the important matches. It's during such times that wearing a protective cover over the injured area becomes crucial.
To let the nose heal the way it does, wearing the mask becomes very important. It’s very difficult though, to wear a mask during the treatment period. Players have reported feeling very uncomfortable wearing masks because of the swelling that happens due to realignment.
The doctors do not recommend injured players to play without masks. No player would want to miss games or get injured again and be out of form for a longer period of time. Some of the other reasons why do basketball players wear masks is an injury to the orbital bone, cheekbone or any other facial bone.
Make a style statement
Wearing protective gear doesn’t always have to be boring and you need not look like a patient. This is what the NBA players might have thought while rocking the masked look on the court. With thousands of eyes resting on them, the NBA players couldn’t have done away with plain looks.
Ever since the basketball face mask became a regular part of the outfit, the NBA players have been experimenting with different types of masks to get a dramatic look. To look different from the crowd, or maybe like a mystical superhero, not a bad idea!
In some instances, the mask might also act as a medium of intimidation for the opponent player. A tense environment has a significant impact on the mental set up of the players. Sometimes the mask gives an advantage to the wearer as it’s difficult to maintain eye contact with them and to analyze their move. This unfair advantage was notice by the association and thus clear masks were promoted.
NBA players who rocked the basketball face mask like a pro
You may have heard legends about popular basketball players who have worn masks in many important matches and performed on a different level. You might think that maybe the mask gave them some kind of superpower. These masked men have been some of the best performers and you may also watch this video to have a look at their great careers.
This NBA player is believed to have worn the mask for a long period of for years. He broke his nose three times in his entire gaming career. He led his team to win the 2004 NBA championship defeating the Lakers in an unpredictable match. Being a strong player, he was bound to receive many hits, so he decided to go for a guard and play.
Lebron sported a black color carbon fiber mask which looked similar to that of batman. He stole the show even with a broken nose beneath the mask. However, the NBA asked him to wear a transparent mask in his next games due to the possibility of any unfair advantage.
The story of Tomjonavich is very sad which involved severe life-threatening injuries on his head and jawbone. He suffered these traumatic injuries during a scuffle and henceforth had to wear a very bad face mask. Nonetheless, he managed through his recovery and led the Allstar team too.
He wore a very unique combination of goggles with a basketball face mask in a 2018 match. He did so to protect the eye socket which had sustained an injury. Although the combination wasn’t very comfortable for the player, he preferred safety over the damage.
Rusell got a kick into his cheekbone and thus had to wear a face mask to protect further damage. He led the Thunder team to victory with the mask on, scoring a 49 point career-high with 15 rebounds and 3 steals.
The legendary Bryant didn’t always wear a mask but remained a scorer always. After a broken nose in the 2012 Allstar NBA game, he started off wearing a black mask. He scored 38 points in a match against the Sacramento Kings and never looked back. Later, he switched to wearing clear masks.
By now, you must have got a fair idea that why do basketball players wear masks? Many players still don’t prefer to wear them because of negligence may be. However, the masks are surely important and their many purposes are enough to make you want them. So if you’re a fan of the masked NBA players or a budding player yourself, you may think of including a basketball face mask in your basketball outfit.