Why Basketball Players Wear Masks

By Alex Mercer

November 7, 2021

We can all agree that every contact sport has its fun and risks. As fun as basketball can be, it still poses a chance of getting hurt.

If you are a big NBA fan, you must have seen legends of the sport and many others wearing weird masks on their faces. Naturally, it leaves fans wondering why basketball players wear masks.

A hit on the face could be critical based on the severity of the impact. One of the most common reasons basketball players wear a mask is to protect their faces from injuries. Wearing a mask helps basketballers to recover faster from facial injuries without having to miss a match. Hence, several NBA players wear masks on the court for safety.

But, are there more reasons why they wear masks? Indeed, there is! There are other reasons than just safety for a basketball player to wear a mask. For some NBA players, wearing a mask motivates them on the court. So, without further ado, let us dive into this topic!

5 Reasons Why Basketball Players Wear Masks

Below are the five most common reasons why basketball players wear masks-

Intimidates The Opponent

Some NBA players like to wear masks to look cooler during their games. They believe it is a cunning tactic to intimidate their opponents.

Not only has it made them appear terrifying to the other teams, but NBA players also appear like superheroes to fans when they wear masks.

Although fans and opponents may view it differently, the ones wearing it are trying to make a statement. It separates them from the crowd and makes them stand out on the court, feeling unique from the rest of us.                       

A Signature Of A Player

NBA players have a signature feature that sets them apart from the rest of the “typical” athletes. Some basketball players wear masks as their unique physical features.

A well-known NBA player, Richard Hamilton, also wore a mask as his signature feature. However, he initially wore it to protect his facial injuries; he continued to do so even after recovering from his wounds.

Later on, wearing a mask made him stand out from the other players.

Taking Precaution

It is a great way to go the extra mile to prevent future injuries. Many professional basketballers wear masks on the court to protect their faces from getting any accidental injuries.

Not every athlete is built the same; some receive injuries more quickly than others do. So, it is better to be safe than sorry by taking extra precautions.

Protecting A Broken Nose                                                                                                         

Even though a broken nose is not the most common injury in this sport, accidents always happen. So, players with broken noses wear masks to protect their faces from further danger.

They wear it while they recover without missing any upcoming games.

When a player has a nose injury, wearing a mask speeds up the process of returning to the court to play. Sometimes they can’t wait to return to the court, even if it means wearing masks for the game’s duration.

The most common reason for basketball players to wear masks is to heal from previous nose injuries. As a result, if you spot a player wearing a show, it’s most likely because of this reason.

Playing With Facial Injuries

It can be tough to dodge several elbows throughout the whole game. The hit can potentially end in facial injuries such as a broken cheekbone, fractured orbital bones or cheek boards, broken jawbones, and a few more.

A mask can serve as protection for the injured area and prevent further injuries. Therefore, to keep themselves safe from career-ending injuries, it is only logical they wear one of these.

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How Do Masks Impact The Performance Of Players?

Despite popular belief, the mask can both improve and hamper the performance of a player. The skills displayed by a player while wearing a mask are not entirely affected by the face equipment.

In reality, it mainly has to do with how the player is willing to deal with it. We have all watched games where we saw a player wearing a mask. Some had no change in the way they performed, while others displayed signs of discomfort.

In other bizarre cases, some gamers have demonstrated how they have learned to deal with the challenges of wearing a basketball mask while simultaneously improving their gaming skills to new heights!

However, the extent to which a mask poses a threat to a player depends on him. The key is to keep moving forward with a mentality of a true warrior like mamba.

5 Famous NBA Players Who Have Worn Masks

Since the first introduction of masks as face protection, a dozen basketball players have worn masks. Let us take a closer look at them, their motives for wearing masks, and the influence it had throughout their games:

Tracy McGrady

Any diehard NBA fan knows Tracy McGrady as the man who suffered many medical conditions, which led him to retire so soon.

During one of his games, the elbow of an opponent hit him in the face. It is one of his famous and tragic injuries. He could not compete in 2006 unless he recovered.

As a result, this forced him to wear masks all season to perform.

Bill Laimbeer

Back in 1990, during the offseason, a fellow player sucker-punched Bill Laimbeer in the face. Gerald McHale, a specialized doctor, saved Bill Laimbeer from his injuries.

He came up with the concept of taking a face model of Laimbeer and ensuring the facemask fits correctly. He wore a molded mask, which is commonly used to treat scars.

Fortunately, the results exceeded the expectations because Laimbeer reached his peak point in his entire basketball career. Surprisingly, it led fans to question whether he needed the mask or not.

Kobe Bryant

During the 2012 NBA season, Dwayne Wade injured the man, the myth, the legend, Kobe Bryant. He suffered from a broken nose. Hence it was necessary to wear a mask during his games.

He still found a way to keep his feet on the court, even after he underwent a diagnosis of concussion and a broken nose.

Joel Embiid

In the 2018 NBA season, Markelle Fultz had accidentally knocked his teammate Joel Embiid during an ongoing game.

Later on, Embiid had no choice but to turn to surgery. Even though the surgery was a success, he still had to wear a mask to recover faster.

LeBron James

Fans of LeBron James named him “The Dark Knight” ever since he started wearing a black facemask. LeBron used facemasks on several occasions after he suffered from facial injuries.

While most players wore the regular transparent mask, LeBron decided to switch it up a little with a black one. Soon, this earned him an iconic feature that lifted his head and shoulders from other cool-looking athletes.


To wrap it all up, a face mask will help you avoid facial injuries. Not to forget, it also helps to recover from existing injuries on your face.

Some basketball players wear it as either a precaution or protection from getting hit during their games. So, if you were wondering why basketball players wear masks, I hope this article cleared all the confusion you had.

As always, thank you for sticking with us to the end, and have fun balling!

About the author

Hey There! My Name is Alex and I run Get Hyped Sports. I created this platform to help people find their love for sports and gaming.

Our work has been featured on platforms like Mashable.com, SVG.com, and XXL.com.

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