The defeat came largely due to a lack of production from squad’s typical scoring leaders. Game 2’s top scorer, Cam Payne, suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter, Chris Paul logged just 15 points after returning from the COVID-19 virus and Devin Booker was held to 5-21 shooting from the field.
This was certainly an uncharacteristic performance for Booker. But even before the game began, the Suns’ star shooting guard was sporting a different look.
For the first time in his career, Booker donned a clear plastic face mask to protect the nose that he broke in the second half of Game 2. Despite his poor shooting night, the Phoenix All Star insisted that the mask “doesn’t affect” him.
While for many players this mask would be a nuisance, Booker is choosing to wear it as a badge of honor — showing respect to his “favorite player of all time”: Rip Hamilton.
After the game, Booker said that he’s had multiple conversations with the former Detroit Pistons star about playing with the mask.
“I did talk to Rip about it,” he said. “I’ve been preaching for a long time that he’s my favorite player of all time, and I’ve had short conversations with him in the past. I thought this was the perfect time to talk to him more and get some advice. So he chopped it up with me for a minute, gave me some great feedback and put me in the right mindset to go out there.”
Multiple NBA stars have rocked the face mask at one point or another — but no player has ever made it a staple of their career like Rip Hamilton.
After breaking his nose twice in the 2003-04 season, Hamilton was advised to wear the mask for the remainder of his career or undergo nasal reconstruction surgery. He took the former.
What started as an inconvenience for the three-time All Star ended up being a good luck charm. That same year, Hamilton led the Pistons to an NBA championship while averaging 21.5 points per game in the postseason.
Whether he wears the mask for the remainder of the playoffs or not, Booker will look to follow in his favorite player’s footsteps and lead the Suns to a Finals victory.
Phoenix will try to bounce back in Game 4 as they take on the Clippers at 9 p.m. ET tomorrow.