With the NBA resuming their previously postponed season this week, many of us will be turning our attention to the action-packed games that feature 22 teams consolidated within the NBA’s “bubble” experiment in Orlando. With strict guidelines & continuous monitoring and testing, it’s no surprise that many are keeping an eye on this unorthodox journey for NBA players.
At Trial Runners, we’re always curious to see how eye-care can benefit an individual. The NBA doesn’t escape our curiosity!
According to a 2015 report by Prevent Blindness of America, basketball has the highest estimated amount of eye injuries out of 22 sports categories. This report, based on American statistics, emphasizes the importance of eye-protection in a contact-sport that is typically played with limited equipment.
Continue reading to take a brief peek into the world of some NBA players who utilized goggles, and perhaps set the bar in a minimal-protection sport.
Amar’e Stoudemire (Drafted 1st round, Phoenix Suns)
(Image by ESPN)
Bursting into the NBA in the 2002 season, Stoudemire became the first player drafted out of high school to win the NBA Rookie of The Year award.
The center has a short, but very impactful history of eye-injuries that led to his use of goggles in-game. In the 2008-2009 season, Stoudemire partially tore his iris, suffered a detached retina, and ultimately missed the remainder of the season due to retina surgery. The recovery took 8 weeks, and the star stuck with protective goggles for the remainder of his career.
During his 14 seasons in the NBA, he created an impressive resume:
4x All-NBA 2nd Team (2011, 2010, 2008, 2005)
All-NBA 1st Team (2007)
Rookie of the Year (2003)
All-Rookie 1st Team (2003)
Horace Grant (Drafted 1st round, Chicago Bulls)
(Image by ESPN)
Horace Grant, notably known as one of Michael Jordan’s teammates, was a key component of the Chicago Bulls’ three consecutive NBA championships in 1991, 1992, and 1993. Standing at 6’10, Grant was known for his defense and rebounding skills.
Grant was diagnosed with nearsightedness, which paved way for his use of goggles with prescription lenses. Due to his prominence, the goggles quickly became a trademark for the Georgia native.
Even after undergoing LASIK surgery, Grant continued to wear goggles on the court after learning that he had become a source of inspiration.
“After a few years I got LASIK surgery, but I kept wearing them without the prescription 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.”
After 17 seasons of play:
4x All-Defensive 2nd Team (1996, 1995, 1994, 1993)
4x NBA Championships (3x Chicago Bulls, 1x Los Angeles Lakers)
Buck Williams (Drafted 1st round, New Jersey Nets [now Brooklyn Nets])
(Image by NBA)
Handpicked by the New Jersey Nets in the 1981 NBA draft, Williams hit the ground running. In his first season, he claimed the Rookie of the Year award, while averaging 15.5 points per game.
Williams’ eyewear was purely sported for eye safety, unlike other stars at the time. Pretty appropriate for the current owner of a construction firm!
Accolades after 17 seasons:
2x All-Defensive 2nd Team (1992, 1988)
2x All-Defensive 1st Team (1991, 1990)
All-NBA 2nd Team (1983)
Rookie of the Year (1982)
All-Rookie 1st Team (1982)
Hakeem Olajuwon (Drafted 1st round, Houston Rockets)
(Image thanks to Basketballforum.com)
Olajuwon was selected 1st overall in the 1984 NBA draft over others such as Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton.
While he didn’t win rookie of the year (Michael Jordan walked away with that one), Olajuwon quickly carved his name into history books. Regarded as one of the greatest centers to play the game, Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon stood tall at 7 foot and ended his career as the NBA’s all-time leader in blocks.
Being in the league at the same time as Michael Jordan didn’t exactly make his 18 season career easier, but he still boasts an incredible resume:
2x NBA Championships (Houston Rockets)
3x All-NBA 3rd Team (1999, 1995, 1991)
6x All-NBA 1st Team (1997, 1994, 1993, 1989, 1988, 1987)
3x All-Defensive 2nd Team (1997, 1996, 1991)
3x All-NBA 2nd Team (1996, 1990, 1986)
2x Finals MVP (1995, 1994)
League MVP (1994)
2x Defensive Player of the Year (1994, 1993)
5x All-Defensive 1st Team (1994, 1993, 1990, 1988, 1987)
James Worthy (Drafted 1st round, Los Angeles Lakers)
(Image by ESPN)
Worthy was selected 1st overall in the 1982 NBA Draft, after winning the NCAA Championship same year. The 6’9 forward made an immediate impact on the Lakers during his rookie year, although cut short by a broken leg. Worthy’s goggles made their way onto the scene in 1985, after suffering a scratched cornea.
Over 12 seasons:
3x NBA Champion (1985, 1987, 1988)
Finals MVP (1988)
All-Rookie 1st Team (1983)
2x All-NBA 3rd Team (1991, 1990)
Kareem Abdul-Jabar (Drafted 1st round, Milwaukee Bucks)
(Image by nba.com)
After a prolific college career, Kareem was selected as the 1st overall pick in the 1969 NBA Draft. The Milwaukee Bucks, who formed the year before, seemingly made the right choice.
Upon retirement in 1989, Kareem was the all-time leader in:
Career wins, defensive rebounds, minutes played, points scored, and games played.
Kareem has since been regarded as one of the top players in NBA history, leaving behind a lasting legacy.
Due to scratched cornea injuries occurring in both college and the NBA, Kareem adopted goggles and donned them for the remainder of his career. It was later discovered that he had developed corneal erosion syndrome, an often painful disorder that can result in dry eyes and sensitivity to bright lights.
The 20 season veteran has a prolific career resume:
7x All-NBA 1st Team (1986, 1984, 1981, 1980, 1977, 1976, 1974)
6x NBA Champion (1971, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)
Rookie of the Year (1970)
6x League MVP (1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1980)
2x Finals MVP (1971, 1985)