The year 2020 has gotten humanity as a whole a lot more comfortable with facemasks. But Kawhi Leonard wasn’t just wearing any facemask Wednesday night.
Leonard had missed the Clippers’ prior two games after colliding with teammate Serge Ibaka and suffering a mouth laceration that required eight stitches. In his return against the Trail Blazers, Leonard wore a mask on his whole face in order to prevent damage from any further contact.
“S—, it’s hard to breathe in that mask,” Leonard told media postgame. ”They started calling me Leatherface and stuff.”
The mask didn’t slow Leonard down. He dropped 28 points on 9-of-17 shooting to lead Los Angeles (4-1) to a 128-105 win over Portland (2-2). Leonard added seven assists and three steals in the victory.
Leonard’s not the first NBA player to break out the transparent face mask. Richard Hamilton wore one for much of his career. Kyrie Irving had a mask phase not too long in the past. It remains the NBA’s best defense strategy following mouth or nose injuries.
Despite it not being an unprecedented occurrence, such masks normally bring out lots of jokes on social media. Leonard’s mask was no exception.
Kawhi said his Clippers teammates called him Leatherface with his mask 😅
He also joked that Serge is on the trading block after elbowing him in the face 😂 pic.twitter.com/uJauwtDNb6
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 31, 2020
Kawhi’s mask is like what’s left over when you cut out masks for COVID
— Clipperholics (@ClipperholicsFS) December 31, 2020
Kawhi got the hannibal lecter mask on.
— Adam Auslund (@followAdamA) December 31, 2020
I know Kawhi teammates roasted tf out of him about that “mask” 😂😭
— Composed King 🤴🏾 (@_malikw019) December 31, 2020