LeBron James' new look is about to become an old one, at least if the NBA gets its way.
James created a buzz by wearing a black carbon-fiber mask to protect his broken nose Thursday in a victory against the New York Knicks. But the league has requested James change to a more traditional clear mask when the Miami Heat host the Orlando Magic on Saturday night.
"It is our understanding LeBron used the black mask because a clear one he was comfortable with wasn't ready," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said.
James appealed the decision and is still trying to get clearance to wear the black mask because he likes the lightness and fit of it, a source said. He also said he liked the style and how it matched the Heat's black throwback uniforms. It gave him no issues when he put up 31 points on 13-of-19 shooting in the Heat's 108-82 win against the Knicks.
But James is preparing to use a clear mask Saturday, though he still may find a way to personalize it.
The black mask was a huge hit among fans, and James and several teammates posted pictures with it on social media. On Friday, the Heat started selling T-shirts with a masked James on them.
"Only LeBron can make breaking your nose look cool," Heat forward Shane Battier said.
The league's request falls in line with previous policy. Players who have worn black masks in the past have been asked to switch to clear ones.
Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving wore a black mask to protect a broken bone in his face but was asked to change to a clear mask as soon as one was available. In 2012, Kobe Bryant wore a black mask for a half with a broken nose but switched.
James has a clear mask ready and practiced with it for two days before switching to the black mask just before Thursday's tipoff.