Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic has sported a clear, plastic mask during the entirety of Portland’s preseason, a protective measure after dental implant surgery over the summer. He removed the device in the Blazers’ season opener versus the Phoenix Suns. Now, according to Joe Freeman of the Oregonian, “To Wear or Not to Wear” has become a burning question.
He said he has permission from the league to wear it for eight more weeks, but doctors have cleared him to play without it. On the one hand, he's far more comfortable mask-less. On the other, he doesn't mind the protection for his new pearly whites. Nurkic took a shot to the face in the third quarter against the Suns, an all-to common occurrence for a 7-footer in the NBA.
"It's OK," he said. "Part of the job right now. But I don't know. I might still try with the mask."
Freeman’s article also gives a blow-by-blow account of Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum’s evening during his Game 1 suspension away from the team in Phoenix.