Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid has missed the last seven games after suffering an orbital bone fracture following an on-court collision with teammate NBA scores Markelle Fultz on March 28.
When he returns to the court — likely in the first round of the Sixers’ playoff series against the Miami Heat — Embiid will don a face mask, joining a handful of recent NBA scores who suffered facial injuries and were forced to wear protective gear.
Embiid showed off a dramatic black mask on the sideline at the Sixers’ home finale Wednesday night and leveraged the situation in his favor on social media — as he has done in almost every scenario this season — by posting a self-deprecating Instagram photo.
Joel Embiid will likely have to switch to a clear mask once he returns, given the NBA scores preference. Embiid said it is “unlikely but still a chance” that he plays in the Sixers’ first playoff game this weekend.
Irving has worn a mask not once, but twice. After breaking his jaw during the 2012-13 season, Irving dropped a then-career-high 41 points in the Cavaliers’ 103-102 loss to the Knicks in December 2012 (he also temporarily wore a black mask). Then, in November 2017, Irving suffered a facial fracture, forcing him to return to the mask for the rest of the month and into early December.
Westbrook fractured his cheekbone after taking an inadvertent knee to the face in March 2015, and two days later put up a 49-point, 15-rebound, 10-assist triple-double in a win against the 76ers NBA scores.
For those who subscribe to the theory that players play better with a mask on, James is a prime example. James scored a career-high 61 points, which is still a Heat franchise record, against the then-Charlotte Bobcats on March 3, 2014. Though he initially wore a black carbon-fiber mask, the NBA requested James switch to a clear mask after one game.
Paul suffered a nasal fracture after being hit by an elbow from Danny Green in a win over the Spurs on March 9, 2012, and subsequently wore a mask for a few weeks heading into the 2012 postseason.
Bryant, who had suffered a fractured nose during the 2011-12 season, started a game against the Pistons wearing a black Zorro-inspired mask. After some discomfort, Bryant switched back to a clear one midgame.
The 2017 Hall of Famer wore a protective mask in 2006 while with the Rockets after taking an accidental elbow to the nose.
Arguably the most notable mask-wearing player in NBA history, Hamilton made it his calling card after breaking his nose during the Pistons’ title run during the 2003-04 season. He ended up wearing the mask until he retired after the 2012-13 season.
After a 2016-17 season with no coaching changes, there has been plenty of movement on that front in 2017-18. Three coaches lost their jobs during the season, and the offseason firings began just hours after the regular season ended. We’ll be on top of all the moves as they happen.
Who’s out: Steve Clifford
Who’s in: TBD
Clifford, who took a medical leave of absence earlier this season, had been with Charlotte since their final season as the Bobcats. But back-to-back seasons finishing 10 games below .500 marked the end of his tenure with the franchise. Newly-hired GM Mitch Kupchak will now lead the search for a coach who can lead the Hornets to their first playoff series win since 2002.
Who’s out: Frank Vogel
Who’s in: TBD
The good feelings from Orlando’s hot start quickly faded as the Magic slumped to a 25-57 finish, leading to Vogel being fired after two seasons NBA scores at the helm. Vogel was 54-110 in two seasons with the Magic.
New York Knick
Who’s out: Jeff Hornacek
Who’s in: TBD
A season-ending win over the Cleveland Cavaliers wasn’t enough to save Hornacek, who was fired when the team got back to New York after the finale. Hornacek was 60-104 in two seasons with the Knicks.
Who’s out: Jason Kidd
Who’s in Joe Prunty (interim)
Despite the support of superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kidd has fired 45 games into the season, his fourth at the helm of the Bucks. Longtime NBA assistant Prunty was named the interim coach for the remainder of the season and guided Milwaukee to a 21-16 finish and a first-round playoff matchup with the Toronto Raptors.
Pelton: With Kidd out, will the Bucks and Giannis reach their peak?
Who’s out: David Fizdale
Who’s in J.B. Bickerstaff (interim)
The Grizzlies were on top of the NBA in the season’s early weeks, but an eight-game losing skid and a frayed relationship with Marc Gasol cost Fizdale his job. That losing streak extended to 11 under Bickerstaff, who eventually finished with a 15-48 mark in his second interim coaching job (he went 37-34 with the Houston Rockets in 2015-16). With the team’s ownership situation cleared up, the focus now moves to find a full-time coach.
Pelton: What’s next for Conley, Gasol, and Memphis after Fizdale’s firing
Who’s out: Earl Watson
Who’s in Jay Triano (interim)
A dismal start and a disgruntled Eric Bledsoe doomed Watson, who has fired just three games into the season. Triano, the former head coach of the Toronto Raptors, took over on an interim basis and guided the Suns to the worst record in the league, securing the best odds for the top pick in May’s draft lottery.
Pelton: The real reason the Suns didn’t succeed under Earl Watson