While fans may have been looking forward to the resurgence of masked Kyrie Irving on Tuesday night against the Brookyln Nets, the Celtics point guard felt a little differently about the return of his protective plastic.
“I hate wearing it, but somehow it’s caused a craze,” he told reporters before tip-off.
Throughout the game at the Barclays Center, Irving was spotted mask-free at nearly every possible opportunity. He kept it off during pregame warmups, took it off in between plays, and kept it off again during warmups following halftime. Playing with a minor facial fracture, Irving was wearing the mask as a precautionary measure but that didn’t stop him from constantly ripping it off.
Top of the key 3 from Kyrie forces a Nets timeout four minutes into the game, and he can't wait to get that freaking mask off. pic.twitter.com/AMnMMAMhh4
— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) November 15, 2017
— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) November 15, 2017
Hey Kyrie how do you feel about the mask? pic.twitter.com/LFrvvr7E6d
— John #TeamTito Karalis ?? (@RedsArmy_John) November 15, 2017
“It’s almost like having somewhat foggy blinders on,” he told reporters after the game. “When I take off the mask, I can see everything, but when I have the mask on, I’m really dialed into what’s in front of me. My peripheral’s a little cut off. ”
Irving had previously worn a black mask with the Cavaliers, which he says only exacerbated his obscured vision. On account of wanting to be able to pass more to his teammates, he opted for a clear version this time around.
“The difference with the black mask is that they’re not getting the ball, because I couldn’t see,” he said. “I could only see what’s in front of me. That black mask, it just takes away the vision. So I was like, ‘Oh, basket.'”
As he had during both his previous masked stints, Irving still put up an impressive scoring performance. Playing 29 minutes, he recorded a team-high 25 points.