When the Miami Heat tipped off against the Orlando Magic Saturday night, LeBron James was wearing a clear protective mask, instead of the black one that caused a huge buzz throughout the media and social universes. For new NBA commissioner Adam Silver, it was a win, a way to send a message to the league that he isn’t a pushover. As for the reasons behind Silver’s and the Association’s decision to ban James’ black mask, they remain in obscurity, for them to know as we desperately try to find out.
I will join the growing group of speculators and provide my best educated guesses as to why the league banned the carbon-fiber black mask. The first thought that comes to mind is image. I’m sure the league’s office received letters, emails, phone calls and faxes (if people still even do that) complaining about the black mask. Someone probably said “I find it offensive and racist.” Another person probably complained “my five-year-old saw LeBron James’ black mask and now he is having constant nightmares.” Silver and his band of merry men and women probably heard every complaint in the book.
Another thought is that if the league allowed James to do whatever he wants in terms of his wardrobe, then what type of standard is that setting for the rest of the teams and players? This seems like the likely reason behind Silver’s crackdown. We have seen the league do this in the past with Dwyane Wade and his cheek band-aids or Wade again and his spandex tights. Both fads took off across the Association and forced David Stern to do something about it. It seems to be the same thought with the protective mask, but Silver is stopping it before it goes too far.
When it comes down to it, all the reasons that I just discussed have one common theme — James and the black mask are too menacing for the league. Whether it prompted racial emotions, scared little kids, or was the beginning of a fashion revolution, James and his black mask were a menace to Silver and his Association. As if the thought of guarding James wasn’t scarey enough, slap a black mask on his face and try to sleep.
Even though the the carbon-fiber black mask was entertaining and cool, the basket of issues associated with it was too big for Silver to want to deal with.
Shane Phillips is an NBA Writer For RantSports.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneRantSports, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also email Shane at ShaneRantNBA@gmail.com.