Basketball player LeBron James told to replace black mask

Miami Heat player wore a black carbon-fiber face shield during the team’s game against the New York Knicks to protect his broken nose

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The U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA) requested that Miami Heat player LeBron James replaces the black mask he uses to protect his broken nose with a clear traditional mask for his next game, the sports website ESPN reported Saturday.

“It is our understanding LeBron used the black mask because a clear one he was comfortable with wasn’t ready,” Tim Frank, the NBA spokesperson, said.

"When the one that is custom made is ready for him, I understand he'll wear it,” he added.

James sparked controversy when he appeared wearing a black carbon-fiber face shield which made him look like a real life super hero during the team’s game against the New York Knicks on Thursday.

But the basketball star, who is trying to get clearance to wear the black mask, said he opted for the black model because it matched the Heat's black uniforms and has filed an appeal in an attempt to continue to wear it, ESPN reported.

On Friday, Miami Heat started selling t-shirts with a masked James on them after his appearance sparked chatter on the Internet.

“Only LeBron can make breaking your nose look cool,” Shane Battier, Heat forward said.

For his next game, scheduled on Saturday March 8, James is expected to use a clear mask, the website reported.

The league has no formal rule about the appearances of protective masks.

It is not the first time that the NBA has asked a player to replace a black mask with a clear one.

Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant could not get away with wearing his black mask while trying to protect broken bones.

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