Joel Embiid won a playoff game in a face mask, almost 40 years after Dave Parker wore one
In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference playoffs on Thursday, the 76ers beat the Heat, 123-108, behind a 23-point performance from superstar and human meme Joel Embiid. It was also Embiid's first playoff game since returning from fractures to his nose. That meant, much like the star of "Eyes Without a Face," the Sixers star donned a super cool and intimidating face mask:
But Embiid wasn't the first athlete to wear the mask -- that belongs to goalkeeper Jacques Plante, who invented it in 1959. Embiid's isn't the coolest, either. That title belongs to the Pirates' Dave Parker. After fracturing his jaw and cheekbone in a home plate collision on May 30, 1978, the Cobra returned on July 16 with the most intimidating look possible: Move over Jason, this is Parker's world.
Perhaps not surprisingly, he was intentionally walked in his first plate appearance.
"We painted one side yellow, one side black. I'd put it on and then put my helmet on over it. The first time I wore it in batting practice, I was hitting balls in the second tier, third tier, so I used it in that first game," Parker said. "But I found it kind of prevented me from seeing some of the pitches, because of the way it was constructed, so we had to try something else."
Which meant it was time to switch to the football mask:
Dave Parker experimented w/ 3 different protective mask styles in 1978 (not '79, as tweeted earlier). pic.twitter.com/pR4BTk08lZ- Paul Lukas (@UniWatch) April 19, 2016
Just like Embiid, Parker didn't seem to mind the mask. The rest of the year, the Pirates slugger hit .351/.410/.632 with 17 home runs. The only concession he made: He wore a normal helmet on the basepaths, so as to not injure the infielders.