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Russell WestbrookDennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsRussell Westbrook is averaging 27.4 points, 8.3 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game this season.

Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook has been on a tear this season. Even after he fractured his cheekbone after taking an inadvertent knee to the face, Westbrook returned to the court a few days later unfazed -- and with some new face gear.

It got us thinking about other notable NBA players who have worn masks at some point in their careers:

LeBron James

In 2014, LeBron's black carbon-fiber mask was a hit among fans, but the NBA requested he wear a clear mask to protect his then-broken nose. Even so, LeBron managed to be LeBron, scoring 31 points on 13-of-19 shooting in a game Feb. 27 against the New York Knicks. 

LeBron JamesMarc Serota/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant

Mask or no mask, Kobe is going to score. But with the mask, he put up 38 points and eight rebounds in a game against the Sacramento Kings on March 2, 2012.

Kobe Bryant David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images

Chris Paul

After being elbowed in the nose by San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green in a game on March 9, 2012, Paul wore a mask for several weeks to protect his face.

Chris PaulNoah Graham/Getty Image

Richard Hamilton

Hamilton made the mask a thing of his own. Despite breaking his nose during the 2003-2004 NBA season, Hamilton led the Detroit Pistons' championship team in scoring with 17.6 points per game. Hamilton went on to wear the mask the rest of his career.

Richard HamiltonAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Kyrie Irving

After his jaw was broken, the mask affected Irving in a good way. The Cavaliers' point guard had what was at the time a career-high 41 points, plus five rebounds and five assists against the Knicks on Dec. 15, 2012.

Kyrie IrvingDavid Liam Kyle/Getty Images

Tracy McGrady

McGrady needed to wear a protective mask in 2006 when he played for the Houston Rockets after taking an accidental elbow to the nose from former NBA player Jake Voskuhl.

Tracy McGradyAP Photo/David J. Phillip

Alonzo Mourning

Although it was for a short amount of time, Mourning wore a mask in 1998 to protect his fractured cheekbone.

Alonzo MourningRhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images

Bill Laimbeer

It is fitting that Laimbeer, one of the more physical players in the history of the NBA, needed to wear a mask during his career.

Bill Laimbeer Getty Images

Jason Terry

When Jason Terry was a member of the Dallas Mavericks, he had to hop on the runway wearing a protective mask for a stretch of games during the 2009-2010 season.

Jason TerryGlenn James/Getty Images

Joe Johnson

As a member of the Phoenix Suns, Johnson suffered an orbital fracture during a second-round playoff game against the Mavericks. He missed the rest of that series, but returned in Game 3 of the 2005 Western Conference finals against the eventual NBA champion Spurs.

Joe JohnsonRonald Martinez/Getty Images

Antonio McDyess

The Pistons had two masked men in 2008 when McDyess joined Hamilton as a result of a broken nose.

Antonio McDyessD. Lippitt/Getty Images

Kenyon Martin

When Martin was playing at an All-Star level in 2002, the forward broke his nose during a game against the Miami Heat, forcing him to protect his face.

Kenyon MartinHenny Ray Abrams/AFP/Getty Images

Andrew Bogut

After former Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson's hand hit Bogut in the face during a game in 2005, Bogut rocked the protective mask for a stretch of games as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Andrew Bogut Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Wally Szczerbiak

Broken noses are a theme with protective masks. Szczerbiak wore his mask because of one during a 2009 game against the Knicks.

Wally SzczerbiakJoe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

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Kyrie Irving is already doing good things with the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers. But whatever, we knew that was coming.

This Nerf dunk, though?

IMPRESSIVE. I mean, it's Nerf, so who knows how high up that hoop is. Also, while the pass from teammate/fellow New Jerseyan (and Florida Gators guard) Eli Carter was sweet, poor friend/stranded defender Jux Jones had no chance on that 2-on-1.

Still, something tells us we might see something like this a time or two at the Q this year. Not with a Nerf ball, though. That would be illegal.

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David Manning/USA TODAY Sports

Cavaliers fire Mike Brown

The Cleveland Cavaliers have made another move. The beleaguered franchise, playoffs-free since LeBron James took his talents to the Miami Heat in 2010, fired coach Mike Brown after just one year in his second stint on the job. And Brown did better than the last guy (Byron Scott never reached the 25-win mark; Brown's Cavs went 33-49 in 2013-14). Was the coach really to blame? Is Kyrie Irving, the team's anointed franchise player, actually elite? Will LeBron ever come back?

  • Did the Cavaliers make the right decision in firing Mike Brown?

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Kevin DurantLayne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images

Who is the hardest player to defend in the NBA? Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers says -- surprise, surprise -- it's Kevin Durant, calling the Oklahoma City Thunder star a taller, better version of George Gervin. Do you agree with Rivers? Where does LeBron James fall on the list? Click on the images below to set your rankings!

Hardest to Defend in NBA

LaMarcus Aldridge

Carmelo Anthony

Kobe Bryant

DeMarcus Cousins

Stephen Curry

Anthony Davis

Goran Dragic

Kevin Durant

Paul George

Blake Griffin

James Harden

Dwight Howard

Kyrie Irving

LeBron James

Al Jefferson

Damian Lillard

Kevin Love

Dirk Nowitzki

Chris Paul

John Wall

Russell Westbrook

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On Thursday, LeBron James will be sporting more on his head than his usual headband. Because of the broken nose he suffered against the Oklahoma City Thunder, James will wear a protective face mask against the New York Knicks. Of course, this won't be the first time he has played in such a thing. He also donned one in 2005 when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also is far from the only NBA All-Star to wear a mask. Over the years, numerous big names have put these on their heads in games. We picked out 10 from the 1990s until now. Who wears it best?

Rank' Em: NBA's Masked Men

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

Worn: 2012

Richard Hamilton

Richard Hamilton

Worn: Most of career

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Worn: 2012

Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Worn: 2004

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving

Worn: 2013

LeBron James

LeBron James

Worn: 2005

Andrei Kirilenko

Andrei Kirilenko

Worn: 2005

Bill Laimbeer

Bill Laimbeer

Worn: 1990-92

Alonzo Mourning

Alonzo Mourning

Worn: 1998

Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman

Worn: 1994

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