All in Cavaliers nation may breathe easy. LeBron James will be all right. The worst news yesterday was that James has a fractured left cheekbone after a nasty collision with Houston...
CLEVELAND — All in Cavaliers nation may breathe easy. LeBron James will be all right.
The worst news yesterday was that James has a fractured left cheekbone after a nasty collision with Houston Rockets center Dikembe Mutombo during the Cavaliers’ 98-87 loss Wednesday.
The best news was that the Cavaliers’ doctors and specialists from the Cleveland Clinic determined the break was stable and will not require surgery.
The bone will be allowed to heal on its own, and as soon as the facial swelling recedes James will be able to play with the help of a protective plastic mask.
With four days off before visiting the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday, the team is simply listing him as day to day and is hopeful he won’t miss any games.
Moments after the injury, which took place shortly before halftime as James chased a pass across the lane and inadvertently hit Mutombo’s elbow, the Cavaliers classified it as an orbital bruise. But further examination showed no damage to the eye area or James’ vision.
“It was not close to the eye socket, which is what we were worried about,” coach Paul Silas said. “Your worst fear is that he’s going to be out a long time. If they had to operate, he could have been out four to five weeks.”
Still swollen and in some pain, James took yesterday, his 20th birthday, off from practice. The Cavaliers will take today and tomorrow off to celebrate the New Year before returning to practice Sunday. The team hopes James can be fitted for a mask in time to practice.
“He’s a very fortunate young man and a very strong young man,” Cavaliers trainer Max Benton said. “You never want to see anyone injured, but this is the best of a worst-case scenario.”
It might take James some time to get used to the mask. Some players, like Detroit Pistons star Richard Hamilton, love the mask so much they continue to wear it even after it isn’t needed anymore. Others, like teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas, hate it. Ilgauskas has had to wear a mask twice after breaking his nose and has angrily thrown it into the crowd.
Knowing the marketing machine around James, though, it has a chance to become a trademark. Perhaps versions with a Nike swoosh will start appearing at local outlets.
“It shouldn’t be long before you see them on sale,” Silas joked. “They’ll find a way to market that thing.”