While many fans like to laugh at NBA players who wear faceguards and masks for looking a little goofy, they can be extremely helpful when taking an elbow or a ball thrown by a muscular giant.

The latest big name player to rock the, ahem, stylish headwear was Kyrie Irving, and by all accounts the dude hated it but was forced to wear it thanks to a busted moneymaker. However some players in history have made it part of their trademark look, so we present to you the five best face masks in NBA history.

Lebron James’ Controversial Black Mask (2014)

When King James rocked a slick carbon-fiber mask to guard his broken nose, fans went wild and started a mini-trend with similar looks and knockoffs in 2014. The NBA wasn’t as impressed, however, putting the kibosh on the kabuki because they couldn’t make any kibble off of it.

Richard Hamilton’s Superman Cape (2003)

When Richard Hamilton broke his nose in 2002, he was advised to wear a mask to protect it from needing further reconstruction. But following his adoption of the wraparound piece, his game seemed to improve and he gained a sense of confidence not unlike Dumbo and his magic feather, though he understandably likened it to Superman’s cape instead. While our analogy may be more apt, Rip’s career had a five-year span of solid production following the new look.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s Scuba Goggles (1974)

Back before he was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, rocking some slick eyewear to protect his frequently injured eyes, he was Lew Alcindor, rocking some kind of mask that seemed more at home on Captain Nemo’s Nautilus. Maybe they helped him ascend to a higher level, because it was wearing these that he first perfected his trademark skyhook shot before converting and changing his name and his specs. So maybe they were pilot goggles instead?

A.C. Green’s Hannibal Lecter Mask (1996)

When A.C. Green lost a couple of teeth and a chunk of his melon to opponent J.R. Reed, he opted to don the most horrifying mask seen outside of a movie about cannibals. With it on, he was able to keep his streak of most games played in a row alive, but it was probably just because nobody was brave enough to look in his direction to verify that he was actually on the court.

Rudy Tomjanovic’s Whatever-the-Heck-This-Thing-Is (1977)

Perhaps the most infamous fight in NBA history was when Kermit Robinson punched Rudy Tomjanovic so hard that he literally almost died. After being laid up for five months, he returned wearing what looked like the result of crossbreeding half of a watermelon with Michael Myers’s mask from the Halloween movies. Still, give the dude props for even returning to the court after getting rocked like that, let alone having the guts to appear in public wearing this monstrosity.

(Image courtesy Thomas Hawk via Flickr. Cropped from 2048×1365 to 750×270.)