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NBA notebook: LeBron James switches masks after NBA objects

Associated Press

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LeBron James dispensed with his menacing black mask at the NBA’s request and wore a clear protective cover for the Miami Heat’s game Saturday night against the Orlando Magic.

The black mask made its debut Thursday in James’ first game since he broke his nose. He said league officials wanted him to instead wear something that would allow opponents to see his face.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke with Nick Arison, son of the team owner, about the matter. James said he didn’t want to make a big issue of it.

“It’s not a league rule, but it’s the league’s request that you don’t wear the black one,” James said. “The reasons they told me didn’t make sense to me, but I’m just a player. I will abide by the request.”

TENTATIVE DEAL — The Chicago Bulls and former BYU sensation Jimmer Fredette have tentatively agreed to a contract after he parted with the Sacramento Kings last week, a person familiar with the situation said Saturday.

The guard was bought out by the Kings on Thursday and cleared waivers Saturday. Now, he’s getting a second chance with the Bulls.

Fredette is averaging just 5.9 points and 11.3 minutes in his third season. But the Bulls are hoping “Jimmermania” will take off in Chicago after staying grounded with the Kings.

Chicago is making a playoff push despite losing former MVP point guard Derrick Rose to a season-ending knee injury and trading away Luol Deng.

NUMBER RETIRED — At long last, Allen Iverson headed straight to the top in Philadelphia. Iverson, one of the all-time great 76ers, had his No. 3 retired at halftime Saturday against Washington.

High above the Wells Fargo Center court, the Sixers set aside space for Iverson between Maurice Cheeks’ No. 10 and Charles Barkley’s No. 34.

Iverson retired in October after last playing in 2010. He won four scoring titles for the Sixers and was the 2001 MVP when he led them to the NBA Finals. He never won a championship, the lone omission in a career that is destined for the hall of fame.

FORGET COLLEGEMark Cuban thinks the next Kevin Durant would be better off in the NBA Development League rather than college.

The Dallas Mavericks owner envisions scenarios where the top basketball prospects would get drafted and play in the D-League rather than spend one season at an NCAA school.

Cuban says there’s no reason for a player to attend college as a freshman “because he’s not going to class, he’s actually not even able to take advantage of all the fun because the first semester he starts playing basketball.”


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