By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — “Masked Kyrie” is returning to a basketball court near you.
After suffering a facial fracture on Friday night thanks to an inadvertent elbow from teammate Aron Baynes, Kyrie Irving will once again sport a protective mask to ensure his fractured face doesn’t suffer anymore damage. The Celtics announced Monday that Irving has joined the team for their trip to Brooklyn, and is questionable for Tuesday night’s game against the Nets.
Irving has been playing at an incredible level in his first month as a Celtic, but he’s had some of his best games when he’s looked like an actual superhero. He first donned a mask back in the 2012 season when he suffered a broken jaw, fittingly debuting his new look in a city that is occasionally referred to as Gotham. New York was the perfect setting for his terrifying black mask, and the Knicks fell victim to some superhuman-like play as Irving dropped a then-career-high 41 points off 15-for-25 shooting from the floor.
The black mask only lasted one game, but Irving protected his face for over a month after breaking his jaw. He shot 48 percent from the floor and 40 percent from three-point range in 19 games, averaging 24.5 points, 5.7 assists and 2.2 steals per contest. This was before LeBron decided to return home and Irving was sharing the floor with the likes of C.J. Miles, Alonzo Gee, and the immortal Tyler Zeller. The Cavs went 6-13 in that stretch.
Irving also wore a mask at the start of the 2013 season after suffering a broken nose, donning a clear mask for a four-game stretch. He averaged 23.5 points and 8.3 assists, dropping 39 points in a win over the 76ers, but that was the only Cavs win of his second masked appearance.
We’ll see what a masked Kyrie Irving can do this time around, and what style he chooses to go with, as he’s expected to wear one for two weeks as his broken face heals. He’s averaging 20.3 points and 5.2 assists per game in his first 13 contests as a Celtic, but if the mask really does bring out another level of superhero play in him, the NBA is in trouble.
Fittingly, Boston’s masked vigilante (in terms of scoring buckets, at least) could make his return in Brooklyn.