The history of goggles in the NBA

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Before contact lenses or corrective eye surgery was a thing, players had to wear glasses to help them see. Some players wore them to make sure they could see where their shots were going while others needed for protection. Here’s a brief history of goggles in the NBA.

One of the greats

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was one of the greatest basketball players ever to grace the NBA. He dominated the professional leagues when he was drafted to the Milwaukee Bucks. In his career, he won the NBA title and MVP award six times each and made the All-Star team an amazing 19 times.

Abdul-Jabbar didn’t need the goggles to make his vision any better, he had another reason for sporting the eyewear. When he played against the University of California in 1968, his cornea was scratched, and not wanting to risk losing his eyesight he did something about it. Abdul-Jabbar adopted the goggles and became a global superstar, scoring the most points in the history of the NBA, with 38,387.

Blue collar hero

To look at Kurt Rambis many might have assumed he was just your average guy in the ‘80s. He wore Buddy Holly-style glasses and sported a mustache. He didn’t seem like your typical NBA star, and in many ways, he wasn’t. Rambis was the catalyst for many of Magic Johnson’s bursts up the court thanks to his defense and rebounding skills.

While playing with Johnson at the Lakers, Rambis won four NBA championships and became a huge part of that successful team. His goggles might have made him seem like any regular guy, but when he was on the court he was a rock in the Lakers’ defense.

Horace Grant

The legendary Chicago Bulls player was famed for wearing goggles on the court. It was necessary for Grant to wear the goggles to see better, but eventually they became a part of his look. Grant had played several years in the NBA with his signature goggles, but by the ’90s he had corrective surgery. That meant there was no need for Grant to continue wearing them, but did that stop him? No!

Grant explained in a Reddit thread that he continued to wear the goggles to encourage young children to wear their glasses when they play. The NBA legend said he was thanked by countless parents and grandparents for inspiring their kids to wear protective eyewear.

Current situation

Not many NBA stars choose to wear goggles anymore, with most being forced to wear them to prevent further injuries. Often face masks and goggles are combined to allow players with eye or facial injuries to get out on the court and help their teams. Goggles seem to have gone out of fashion in recent years, but there’s always the chance they will make a comeback if another star injuries their eye.

Goggles were all the rage when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wore them on his rise to the top of the NBA, but in recent years they have become less popular.

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