Newfangled LeBron

Posted: November 02, 2010

THE MIAMI HEAT'S LeBron James got into the Halloween spirit by wearing a custom-made mouthguard sporting fangs while playing against the Magic on Friday night.

Of course, there's now talk of the NBA handing out a ridiculous fine for such non-sanctioned behavior. That doesn't sit well with us or Bobbie Quinn, whose Philadelphia-based company, Sport Guard Inc., manufactured the custom mouthguard.

"I'm a little distressed," Quinn said yesterday. "If [the mouthpiece] is not approved because it's flashy, well . . . I understand that. But it was especially designed for LeBron. It couldn't protect him any better."

Quinn said she was approached by Mike Mancias - James' athletic trainer - who wanted a top-quality mouthpiece for the All-Star forward.

That would be, according to Quinn, the "Gladiator," which comes in a variety of colors and styles, including fangs. Of course, James' piece had to be a little more stylish than most.

"We designed 3-D fangs just for him," Quinn said.

Quinn said she started the company after her son Travis, then 11, suffered a concussion while playing ice hockey.

"I still have the little piece of something he was wearing on my desk," Quinn said of the mouthpiece her son used at the time.

It was that poor-quality piece of plastic that spurred her to team up with co-owner John Hackman - who operated a dental lab at the time - and create a better mouthguard.

"Boil-and-bite mouthpieces don't fit well," Quinn said of the run-of-the-mill products you find at sporting-good stores. Quinn explained that the thickness and custom fit of her company's mouthguards - which cost $50 - help protect against oral injuries and concussions.

"Coming from a parent's perspective, if it [a mouthpiece] might possibly help protect my child's brain, I'm going to do that," she said.

As for LeBron's fangs?

"In basketball, it [wearing a mouthguard] is not mandated," Quinn said. "LeBron took a plain piece of equipment and made it fun. By doing so he said, 'Safety is important, even to me.' "

- Tom Mahon

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