Why Do Basketball Players Wear Masks?

why basketball players wear masks

Basketball players wear masks to protect against facial injuries, aid in the healing process, and look cool on the court. The history and evolution of masks in the NBA showcase their importance in enabling injured players to continue playing while minimizing risk and enhancing appearance.

The game of basketball could be fun, but sometimes it could be tragic. Many unexpected injuries could happen inside the court during a ball, and sadly, these injuries are inevitable. The good news is, basketball players can endure the pain of injuries because of their solid body build. Most basketball players go to the gym to make their bodies sturdy and tough. One of the most common injuries that a basketball player can experience is an injury in the face. 

Having an injury in the face could be very dangerous, it depends on how critical your injury in the face is. Injury in the face is one of the common reasons why basketball players wear masks. Science said that wearing a mask will prevent common face injuries and masks also help basketball players to heal fast from their facial injuries.

Well, there are more reasons why basketball players are wearing masks. Every basketball player has their reasons for wearing masks inside the court. Today, we are going to answer the question, why do basketball players wear masks, and what are their reasons? We have researched everything for you, so let’s go!

Where And When Did Wearing Masks Start? 

Before we answer the question of why basketball players wear masks, let’s first take a look at the background of masks in the NBA.  

Back in the 80s, basketball players encountered a lot of facial injuries. Some injuries are fatal and some are just mild injuries. When players have facial injuries they are given two options: they can chill in the crowd or on the bench; the second option was to wear a mask so that they could be eligible to play. 

Even though chilling on the bench sounds easy, chilling on the bench was frustrating for players that wanted to contribute numbers on their team’s scoreboard.

The mask in the early days has only one size, it is irritating for players to wear a tight mask that is why most players chose to chill on the bench even though it is against their will. Wearing tight masks also seemed to complicate injuries because it has only one size, that is why players have no choice but to sit on the bench. 

Luckily today, things began to change. Masks have different sizes for different players, but most masks today have an adjustment so that it could fit every player. There are also transparent masks that could help players to see the court with ease. 

What Is The Mask Made Of?

It depends on the company of the masks. But most masks were made from hard plastic with carbon fiber which can be lightweight and impact resistance. Some masks were made of shatterproof medical-grade polycarbonate. The company of masks has a goal, and that is to help athletes to protect them from facial injuries. That is why most companies will use materials that they think would help the athlete and make them comfortable wearing masks.

Why Basketball Players Wear Masks

Here are some reasons why basketball players wear a mask:

To Be Eligible To Play With Face Injuries

There are many reasons why a basketball player could get facial injuries. But the primary reason for having a facial injury is that it’s quite tough for basketball players to avoid many thrown elbows in the game. When elbows landed on your face, the impact could be strong and this impact could break your nose, cheekbone, or your eyebrow ridge. 

Masks can lessen the severeness of the injury. It can also help to protect the injured area on your face and avoid another hit. Most NBA players that are experiencing facial injury wear masks to speed up their healing process. 

For Facial Injury Protection

Basketball players who use face masks believe that masks can protect them from any facial injuries. They also feel that it is much safer to prevent injuries than getting one, like the saying “prevention is better than cure”.

Let’s be frank here, face masks don’t 100 percent protect you from facial injuries. Wearing face masks can only lessen the fatality of your facial injury, it does not have magic or spell that could a hundred percent prevent your face from getting injured. The sad truth is, injuries are inevitable, and if you love playing basketball, then be ready to get injured. 

To Look Cool In The Court

Another reason why basketball players wear masks is for them to look cool inside the court. When players wear masks, fans think it is cool and for opponents, it seems intimidating. 

It is cool for fans because, despite facial injuries, the player still managed to play and entertain the crowd. For opponents, it looks intimidating because opponents think that they are just a piece of cake for the injured player because he is not backing out despite the injury he has. 

Famous NBA Players That Wore Masks

Let’s take a look at some famous NBA players that wore masks:

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant was forced to wear a mask because of a broken nose caused by Dwayne Wade during the 2012 NBA All-Star Game. Even though Kobe was diagnosed with a concussion and a fractured nose, he still found a way to keep his feet right into the court. 

Tracy McGrady

Tracy Mcgrady was known for his 13 points in 30 seconds against the San Antonio Spurs. Mcgrady has encountered many injuries that caused him to retire early. One famous injury he had was a facial injury caused by an elbow from his opponent. That is why last 2006, Tracy Mcgrady had no option but to wear a mask for him to be eligible to play. 

Lebron James

Lebron James wore face masks on different occasions, but his reason for wearing a mask is to sustain his facial injuries. Lebron James used to wear a black mask during his Cavalier and Heat career. Wearing those black masks caused people to call him, “dark knight”. But because it gave him too much advantage, the black mask has been banned by the NBA and required him to wear a transparent mask.

Russel Westbrook

Russell Westbrook opted to wear a mask when his teammate Andre Roberson accidentally kneed him right in his face. Westbrook was diagnosed with a fractured zygomatic arch. Russell has no option but to wear a clear mask to speed his healing process and to be able to play.

Rip Hamilton

Rip Hamilton started to wear a mask after breaking his nose three times. Fans gave him the nickname “Godfather of the mask” because doctors still require him to wear a mask even though his injuries would heal up. That is why Rip Hamilton was forced to wear a mask throughout his career.

Joel Embiid

Last 2018, Joel Embiid accidentally smashed his teammate Markelle Fultz. Embiid was forced to undergo surgery. After the successful surgery, Embiid had to wear a mask to speed up his recovery process. 

Chris Paul

Chris Paul was injured by Danny Green in the nose during the 2011 to 2012 NBA season. Paul was required to wear a face mask to speed up his healing process. 

Rudy Tomjanovich

Rudy ended up wearing a very ugly and uncomfortable face mask during his NBA career. He suffered from a fatal injury caused by a player named Kermit Washington. Tomjanovich remained on the sideline for five months and successfully made a full recovery. 

Final Verdict

Getting a face mask would help you to prevent some facial injuries that you badly do not want to have. Face masks could also help you to recover from a facial injury if you got one. Wearing a mask can also make you look cool to your fans and could be intimidating to your opponents. 

What do you feel wearing a mask while playing? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!

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