Why is Joel Embiid allowed to wear a black mask?
Those who were watching Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series between the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers immediately noticed the mask Joel Embiid was wearing.
Embiid was cleared to play in the game just a week after he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone during the Game 6 win over Toronto. But Embiid had on some protection and was wearing a black mask.
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Players who wear masks when they play usually use clear ones. But Kobe Bryant wore a black mask about a decade ago and popularized it. Then LeBron James wore a black mask in 2014. He infamously stopped wearing the black mask and switched to a clear one at the NBA’s request. That led some to think that the NBA didn’t allow black masks.
James mentioned in a 2014 story that part of the reason for the clear masks is so opponents can see the player in the mask/the player’s eyes easier.
The NBA doesn’t have a rule against black masks. They just prefer players wear clear ones and have sometimes asked players to comply. Kyrie Irving is another player who switched to a clearer mask, though that was for performance reasons.
Philadelphia 76ers fans probably remember that Embiid also wore a black mask in 2018. He probably would prefer to play while healthy and without a mask. But as long as he needs protection, it seems like he prefers to wear a black mask.