LeBron James likely will wear a protective facemask during games for at least a few weeks after breaking his nose on Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
James was fitted for a mask on Saturday after the Heat’s practice and might sit out Sunday’s game against the Bulls to allow his nose to heal and the swelling to subside. He broke his nose driving to the basket against Thunder forward Serge Ibaka, and a doctor reset the fracture on Friday, according to the team.
James attended practice on Saturday but did not participate. He practiced shooting afterward with a large bandage across the bridge of his nose, which provided some stability to the injury. In addition to having trouble breathing through his nose, James said he was experiencing a little bit of everything.
“Pain, headaches, whatever,” James said. “I can get past it and hopefully get better the next couple days … but if not, we’re not going to rush it. I’m not going to rush it.”
Regarding Sunday’s game, James called himself “a game-time decision — more probable than anything, but we’ll see what happens.”
James has worn a protective mask before. Early in his career, James fractured a cheekbone after being elbowed by Dikembe Mutumbo. He wore the mask for a few weeks, but it affected his game.
“It’s nothing that you want to make long term,” James said. “I’m still in awe of what [Richard] Hamilton was able to do for so long wearing it. It’s very uncomfortable.”
If James doesn’t wear a mask, he would at least be forced to “go with this Humpty Dumpty thing I got on my face right now, and do my dance after I make a shot.” James only wears the bandage during practice. He attended a movie Friday with his children without the band-aid.
James didn’t miss any games after his facial injury with the Cavaliers, but “I was a 19-year-old recovering compared to a 29-year-old recovering, so it takes a little bit longer time.” If James misses Sunday’s game against Chicago, then he would have several more days to rest. The Heat doesn’t play again until Thursday.
James left Thursday’s game with about five minutes to play. He led all scorers with 33 points despite not finishing the game. James has averaged 37 points over his past four games, and the Heat is 7-1 in February. James said he thought Ibaka’s shot to his nose “was accidental,” but acknowledged the obvious.
“I thought it was a foul,” James said. “I’ll tell you that.
“He got me twice, but I was happy that our training staff was able to stop the bleeding once I got into the locker room, and the fact that I was on the road for so long and it happened on the last day before I came home was the worst thing about the shot.”
The injury comes with the Heat playing arguably its best basketball of the season, but Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh said Saturday that the team would be able to adjust if James needed time to rest. Both Wade and Bosh scored 24 points against Oklahoma City.
“We just got to come in with a gameplan and try to go out there,” Wade said. “On both ends of the floor, you can’t make up for LeBron James. Someone will have to step up in a different form in a different way. Things will be done a little different but also a little similar.”
Said Bosh: “He’s Iron Man, but sometimes when you have a broke nose, you have to rest a little bit. So, he’s just got to go rub some dirt on it or do whatever he does to get healthy.”
Deadline.com reported Friday that James is pegged to star in Space Jam 2, but James apparently hasn’t been approached about the idea. It’s unclear if a script has even been developed for a potential sequel.
“That’s news to me,” James said. “I haven’t heard anything about it. I’ve always loved Space Jam. It was one of my favorite movies growing up, and if I have the opportunity, then that would be great, but that’s news to me.”
A Marvel cartoon featuring voiceover work by Bosh is set to air on Disney XD from 8 to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. The cartoon is called Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., and the episode will feature Hulk and friends taking on Thor. Bosh will play the part of Asgardian Heimdall, who is the all-seeing guardian of the Bifrost.
Bosh said he was in studio for “about three hours” last summer and did plenty of research on his character.
“I had auditioned for a couple different studios, and I got some calls back,” Bosh said. “I guess they thought I could do a pretty good job, and we’ll see [Sunday].”