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When you think of former NBA player Horace Grant, two things come to mind: the Chicago Bulls of the early ‘90s, and Grant’s signature goggles. In a Reddit AMA held on Thursday, Grant responded to a question about why he wore goggles when he played basketball, which were actually necessary, and later on, as a symbol for his fans:
Reddit user “JDRoc”: What was the initial reason for the goggles? And did you keep them because you had to, or did you like the look?
Grant: I got them because I was legally blind. I wore em because of that for a few years. After a few years I got Lasik surgery, but I kept wearing them without the perscription [sic] lenses because I had grandparents and parents come up to me and thank me for wearing them. Their kids and grandkids would get made fun of by wearing protective eyewear playing sports, so I kept wearing them to help make it cool to wear goggles for the kids.
Dr. David Orth, the Bulls’ ophthalmologist, said that Grant’s eyes were “barely good enough to drive in Illinois,” according to this Chicago Tribune article from May 1991. After Orth prescribed goggles for Grant, he “wore them religiously.” That is, until they became a vulnerability after the Knicks’ Charles Oakley repeatedly knocked them off during the 1991 NBA playoffs. Grant decided not to wear them in later rounds, which made his play noticeably worse.
“He’s been playing great under the basket, but I can see that when he is out a certain distance, he’s becoming insecure.
“Without the glasses, he has zero depth perception. And my real concern is that under stress, when the game’s on the line, he’s not going to be at maximum efficiency.”
After playing poorly against the Lakers in Game 1 of the 1991 NBA Finals, Grant returned to using his goggles, which, of course, significantly improved his play in Game 2.
Two lessons we’ve learned here: 1) Listen to your doctors, because you might win four NBA championships and earn an All-Star appearance later in life, and 2) Horace Grant’s an amazing guy for continuing to wear goggles after surgery to “make it cool” for his young, spectacled fans.