BOSTON (CBS) — Kyrie Irving had to play with a clear protective mask against the Nets on Tuesday night due to a facial fracture. You wouldn’t know based on his final stat line, but he was not a fan of the mask at all.
Despite showing clear annoyance with his facial protection, Irving scored 25 points to go with five assists and three rebounds in just 29 minutes in the Celtics’ 109-102 win over the Nets in Brooklyn. The cumbersome protective mask may have hindered him on a couple of occasions since he was merely 8-for-20 (40 percent) from the field, and he frequently showed his frustration with the equipment by removing it whenever he had a chance.
That was pretty much every stoppage of play.
This clip where Irving drains a three-pointer then immediately pops the mask off sums up his night:
Kyrie’s first mask game also drew plenty of reactions on Twitter from start to finish:
Irving explained after the game that he decided to wear a clear mask instead of a black one because when he wore the black mask, he could only see the hoop and couldn’t pass the ball due to a lack of peripheral vision (which explains why he scored so much in those games). Here’s how he explained it:
“The difference with the black mask is that they’re not getting the ball because I couldn’t see outside of my eyesight. So I was like, little do you guys know – they’re like, ‘Oh, the Masked Man,’ ‘the black mask’ – I scored that many because I was just looking at the basket. So a lot of my peripheral vision and driving, I could only see what’s in front of me. That black mask, like, it just takes away your vision, so I’m just like, ‘Oh, basket.’ Like, this is just the best-case scenario. So that’s the whole black mask thing. So I’m glad I get to wear a clear one.”
Irving is hoping to spend just a “few more weeks” in the mask before removing it for good. It’s clear that it won’t affect his performance too badly.