Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard said Thursday that some of his teammates have teased him over the protective mask he had to wear against the Portland Trail Blazers after suffering a mouth injury that required stitches.
According to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk, Leonard said, "S--t, it's hard to breathe in that mask ... they started calling me 'Leatherface' and stuff."
Kawhi suffered the injury Christmas Day as a result of an inadvertent elbow from teammate Serge Ibaka. Given Ibaka's role in the incident, Leonard joked, "Serge can't talk too much; we got him on the trading block."
Ibaka clearly got a kick out of Leonard's joke:
Some Twitter users also got in on the act, including someone who made a Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs comparison:
Leonard's return to the lineup Wednesday was a successful one, as he finished with 28 points, seven assists, three rebounds and three steals in a 128-105 win over the Blazers.
Kawhi missed two games after his injury versus the Denver Nuggets.
The Clips went 1-1 in those games and are now 4-1 on the season and in first place in the Western Conference's Pacific Division, a half-game ahead of both the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings and one game ahead of the rival Los Angeles Lakers.
As expected, Kawhi has been the driving force behind the Clippers' success this season, averaging a team-leading 25.0 points per game to go along with 5.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 steals.
Leonard is following in the footsteps of other NBA stars who have toughed out facial injuries by wearing a mask during games, including LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Rip Hamilton, the latter of whom famously wore a mask long after his injury healed.
Kawhi's mask has a different design because it is meant to protect his mouth, and it certainly gives off heavy Lecter vibes. Still, anything that gets Leonard on the floor is a good thing for the Clippers, especially since it didn't seem to hinder his play whatsoever.