NBA

LeBron James and the 10 Most Famous NBA Mask Wearers

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Top 10 Masked NBA Players

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LeBron James is set to don a mask for the second time in his NBA career. Many fans have probably forgotten about the last time The King was forced to put a plastic barrier on his grill. It happened way back in 2005 when James broke a bone in his face after an in-game collision. He ultimately recovered and shed the mask fairly quickly, but it's now time for The King to bust it out again in 2014.

The recent play that James broke his nose on is rightly getting a lot of attention. LBJ was smacked squarely on the schnauze by Serge Ibaka, but was still able to finish the play strong and he nearly threw down a dunk. Blood immediately began to pour out of his nose and onto the baseline, which began speculation on whether his nose was broken. It is indeed broken, but James is set to make his return to action this Thursday with his mask.

Will James go with a standard or a black 'Zorro-like' mask? I'm guessing he'll rock the exact same one (style-wise) he did back in 05.

Overall, masks are pretty common in the NBA. Players have worn them for years to avoid sitting out games with facial and nose fractures. The masks aren't full proof by any means, but they certainly reduce the risk of further injury by absorbing most of the impact from other players' hands and elbows.

So who are the most famous players in NBA history to don a mask? And who rocked the best mask? In this slideshow we'll countdown the top 10 of all time in league history. Enjoy:

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10. Zydrunas Ilgauskas

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Big Z was forced to wear a mask back in 2004 because of a broken nose, but he absolutely hated it. So much so, that when he broke his nose again in 2009, he didn't even bother to wear one. He was quoted as saying, "I hate masks," and that last time he wore one, he ended up "throwing it into the stands."

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9. Andrei Kirilenko

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Kirilenko has a unique look going on already. The last thing he needed was this goofy mask.

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8. Dennis Rodman

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It's surprising that Rodman didn't wear a mask more often throughout his career. The guy was constantly involved in physical activity under the hoop. Who knows how many elbows he's taken to the grill?

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7. A.C. Green

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Green didn't always wear a mask, but he was forced to wear this gem back in the early 1990s. However, he didn't miss any time. Green still holds the mark for the most consecutive games played in NBA history (1,192). He also famously broke Clyde Drexler's nose back in 1989.

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6. Kyrie Irving

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Irving has rocked a mask on a couple of occasions during his NBA career. The first time he went Zorro on us, the next time he went a little more traditional.

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5. Alonzo Mourning

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Zo was forced to wear a mask for a period of time during his first stint with the Heat, but he famously ditched the mask one night in 2000 and dropped 43 points on the Nets.

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4. Will Perdue

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Will Perdue's NBA career is known for a few things. Firstly, he played on four championship teams. Secondly, he had humongous size 21 shoes. Thirdly, he rocked some serious masks throughout his career.

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3. Kobe Bryant

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We all remember the Black Mamba mask. Kobe rocked a regular mask after breaking his nose, but then decided to switch it up with this page from Zorro's book.

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2. Bill Laimbeer

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The Bad Boy of Detroit was forced to wear a facemask back in 1990 due to a fractured orbital bone. I'm sure he didn't make the extra protection it provided. Laimbeer was always mixing it up in the paint.

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1. Richard Hamilton

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After having to undergo nasal reconstructive surgery following two nose breaks, Hamilton was forced to wear a facemask. He ended up getting used to it and wore the mask for the rest of his career. Many fans across NBA simply referred to Rip as The Masked Man.