LeBatman was short lived.
New NBA commissioner Adam Silver put the kibosh on LeBron James’ black protective mask one day after the defending back-to-back MVP debuted the look. While there is no formal rule against players wearing black masks, the NBA requested that James wear a transparent mask while his broken nose heals.
“For the reasons that they told me, it didn’t make sense to me, but, hey, I’m just a player in this league and I will abide by the request of the NBA,” James said.
James added that he didn’t want to discuss the league’s reasoning for clear masks, but said, “As long as it’s transparent. As long as they can see my face — my opponents. Just as long as it’s not black.”
James’ new opaque mask appeared to be formed from the same mold as its carbon fiber predecessor. Emphasizing that he was content with adhering to the league’s request, James said he was “good with the NBA,” and “I am not against the NBA. They had a request and I fulfilled it. Let’s just say that.”
As far as marketing goes, James said one game with the black mask was enough.
“That’s all needed,” James said. “One and done, baby. I’m good. That’s why I didn’t fight it.”
On Thursday, Dwyane Wade predicted the league would make James change masks.
“It was good. It was fun,” Wade said. “A lot of attention. A lot of T-shirts are going to be made. A lot of Instagram posts, and now we move onto something else.”
Wade is no stranger to facial gimmicks, of course. He got plenty of mileage out of his Band-Aid look earlier in his career.
“I don’t think they were really focused on Miami at the time,” Wade said. “We weren’t on TV a lot at the time, but they finally caught it. But like I told James, ‘You have fun. It ain’t happening next game.’ ”
Former Heat player Caron Butler signed with Oklahoma City this week after being bought out by the Milwaukee Bucks. While the Heat had interest in Butler, he wasn’t viewed as a priority by the Heat’s front office.
“We love Caron,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We always have viewed him as a Miami Heat guy even though he was only here for a short period of time. But he carried himself in the fashion that we pride ourselves in.
“He’s going to a situation he feels is right for him. We felt we made our moves during the offseason, getting Greg Oden and Michael Beasley.”
James’ “Wastepaper Basketball” music video with Late Night host Jimmy Fallon appeared on the arena’s videoboard between the first and second quarters. James and Fallon shot the video around the Heat’s schedule during a road trip to New York. Fallon’s rap song was a spoof on Kurtis Blow’s iconic song, “Basketball.”
“Jimmy Fallon is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever meet, and I’ve always loved what he does and we happened to be going to New York,” James said. “They came up with a great concept with the whole Kurtis Blow video. If you’ve ever seen that video, it makes absolutely no sense with the nunchakus and whatever. I don’t know. We had a great time with the wastepaper basketball thing.”