It looks like The Lone Ranger won't ride again — not if the NBA has its way.
The league has ordered LeBron James to lose the black carbon-fiber mask in favor of a clear version, but the superstar is appealing the decision, according to ESPN.
NBA officials want to see the change by Saturday night, when the Heat play the Orlando Magic in Miami.
James' mask, which he wore to protect his broken nose during a victory against the Knicks on Thursday night, was a big hit with fans and his teammates. After James destroyed the Knicks with 31 points in the 108-82 win, Heat coach Eric Spoelstra called the mask "menacing."
“It was awesome,” teammate Chris Bosh said. “He played like Batman out there. It was great. I’m glad he put a little bit of flavor into it. Clear is boring. No offense to anybody that wears a clear mask. Gotta have a little fun with it sometimes. If you want to wear a black mask and look crazy, you should do it.”
But NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league is under the impression that James's permanent mask still is being made, and that they "prefer clear masks." The clear material typically used requires 18 hours to dry.
Not so. James told reporters he liked the black mask because "it went with the uniform." James also said he likes the lightness and fit of the black mask.
"We were wearing our throwback uniforms, and I was able to get a carbon fiber one – which is actually lighter than the one that I'd been wearing in practice," James told reporters. "And it came through in the last minute, so I went with it."
And King James' teammates like the look.
"Only LeBron can make breaking your nose look cool," Heat forward Shane Battier said.
On Friday, the Heat started selling T-shirts with an image of the masked James on them. I'm guessing that when the NBA finds out they can make money from it, they'll probably change change their mind.