NBA

Masked Embiid joins list recent NBA stars

After missing the first two games of the Philadelphia 76ers – Miami Heat Eastern Conference semifinals series, Joel Embiid returned to the starting lineup for Game 3.

The MVP finalist was sidelined with a facial fracture and concussion after being struck by Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam late in Game 6 of Philadelphia’s first-round series.

His return to court also marks the return of his face mask.

But this isn’t the first time he’s donned protective gear in the postseason. Embiid made his first appearance wearing a mask in the first round of the Sixers’ 2018 playoff run.

He even poked fun at the mask, posting a picture captioned: “‘No one cared who I was until I put on the mask’…. The Phantom of The Process”

Here are a few other instances of masked stars over the last decade.

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

Booker first wore the mask in Game 3 of the 2021 Western Conference Finals. Before the game he even asked famed former masked shooting guard Rip Hamilton for advice.

Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics

Irving wore the protective gear for multiple squads, but his first showing might be the most memorable. He dropped a then-career high 41 points in 39 minutes.

Read more: Black mask Kyrie Irving vs. clear mask Kyrie Irving — who wins?

LeBron James, Miami Heat

James donned the black mask for one game in Feb. 2014 before switching to a clear one.

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Two days after fracturing his cheekbone, Westbrook went off for a signature performance. He put up 49 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists (and one mask).

Honorable mention
Victor Oladipo, Indiana Pacers

Okay, maybe this one isn’t quite like the others, but it kind of fits the theme. Oladipo donned a Black Panther mask while competing in the 2018 Slam Dunk Contest.

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