DunkOrThree > Your Basketball Blog > NBA Players With Glasses

NBA Players With Glasses

Publish Date: 01.07.2021
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

Some of the greatest athletes in the world aren’t immune to vision problems. Over time, the NBA has seen its fair share of players strapping on eyewear. While jokes about players in ‘Rec-Specs’ were often a part of our childhood, no one would ever have dared to make those sort of digs in front of the guys we’ll discuss in this article.

But, vision problems aren’t the only reason for wearing specs on the court, so let’s take a look at some of the most famous NBA players who have worn glasses or vision goggles.

Improved vision improves your game

Basketball is a game of inches. The quicker your reaction time, the more successful you will be. Getting your hands out to steal a pass on defense, jumping at the right time to grab a rebound, or finding the open man on offense, all require quick reactions. Now imagine having vision trouble while trying to make these tough plays against the best in the world.

One of my college teammates went to an eye doctor and was prescribed goggles to wear during the game. He said, that before wearing them, most of his shots were guesses – the rim looked like a blurry, orange object to him. I can only imagine how much easier shooting came to him after his switch to goggles.

The same can be said for the goggled NBA players we’ll cover in this article.

Famous NBA Players With Glasses

The players we touch upon here have a few things in common: they’re big guys who played in dynasties, won multiple Championships, and became notorious for wearing vision-corrective lenses to excel. Coincidence? Perhaps. But it’s interesting to see the impact that each player made on their respective teams. Two of them—Kurt Rambis and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—were teammates on the Lakers for seven seasons and won five titles together.

1. Kurt Rambis

Image courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

There are two things I will never forget about former NBA journeyman Kurt Rambis: the shot he took from Kevin McHale in the 1984 NBA Finals and his signature black-rimmed specs.

First, let’s talk about that fateful clothesline that Rambis suffered at the hands of McHale. The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers were heated rivals, facing off against each other in the NBA Finals three times in four years. The first came in 1984 and led to the infamous McHale clothesline I mentioned earlier. The most impressive feat of the clothesline comes from the glasses Rambis wore. How did they not fall off after that shot he took?

For Rambis, whose vision is a whopping 20/400, wearing glasses was his only option. The specs, along with his tough, blue-collar approach to the game, made him a fan favorite. Chick Hearn, the Hall-of-Fame Lakers play-by-play announcer, anointed him with the nickname “Superman” because of his Clark Kent-esque look on the court. When his playing career ended, Rambis got into coaching and was head coach for the Lakers, Timberwolves, and Knicks.

2. Horace Grant

Image courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/ALLSPORT

As a big Chicago Bulls fan, many of my early basketball memories involve Horace Grant’s notorious goggles. Grant played a huge part in the Bulls’ first three-peat as their enforcer, rebounder, and goggle-wearer extraordinaire. Grant got his first goggles back in 1991, and he wore them religiously because he was legally blind.

So, it’s staggering to think that Grant—without eyewear—was named ACC Player Of The Year at Clemson during his senior year.  But that’s because Grant got LASIK surgery in 1996 to improve his vision. Even though he regained his sight, he never stopped wearing the goggles. Why? Because of the impact they made with young fans who wore glasses. He said he lost count of how many parents and grandparents thanked him for making children more comfortable wearing goggles when they played.

Horace Grant made goggles cool for a time in the ’90s, winning over thousands of fans. He probably improved many kids’ games indirectly, as they could see on the court, rather than sacrificing their sight to look cooler.

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Image courtesy of Fox Sports

Kareem Adul-Jabbar started his career in Milwaukee, winning a title with the Bucks during his time there. He was then traded to the Lakers in 1975 and spent the next fifteen seasons in LA before retiring. Jabbar played an integral part of the “Showtime” Lakers’ 1980s dynasty and became a mentor to the entire league as his star rose. During a time when players didn’t prioritize diet, flexibility, and weight training, Jabbar beat the odds, playing 20 seasons in the league.

He is the NBA leader in total points, with over 38,000 scored, and still holds the NBA record for total minutes played, with over 57,000 during his career. Kareem’s journey to goggles was a little different than Rambis’s and Grant’s. Jabbar began wearing goggles in 1975, after getting a fingernail to his eye during a pre-season game. While it had nothing to do with his vision initially, the number of times it happened led to him developing corneal erosion syndrome. The condition would dry his eyes up, causing pain at times. In fact, he actually missed time during the 1986 season because of it.

While Jabar was never known for his charm and sense of humor while playing, he did poke fun at his famous goggles in the movie Airplane!. Jabbar played a pilot in the movie. During a scene where he was supposedly sick because of a meal he ate, he was carried through the plane wearing his full uniform and goggles instead of his pilot’s uniform.

Proof you can keep your vision and your fanbase intact

Vision impairment is common; it doesn’t discriminate, no matter how talented or skilled you are. Kurt Rambis, Horace Grant, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are just a few players in the history of the game who donned goggles while playing. Their signature looks resonate with all types of fans because of the distinction of their eyewear on the court.

These talents thrived at the highest level despite their vision impairment. They made wearing goggles cool to the younger generation of players. Goggles or athletic eyewear is nothing new on the court, and the pros far outweigh the cons if you are the one wearing it.

Did you have a favorite player who wore glasses or goggles on the court? Let us know who it is below in the comments section!

Read Also
Top 10 International Players in the NBA: Foreign NBA Athletes
The NBA is a multi-national league. While it has a strong foothold ...
Iconic NBA Players: Renowned Basketball Players & Their Achievements
The NBA is, and has always been, a star dominated league. Though ...
BetMGM Promo
Top 5 Shortest NBA Players to Dunk
This article goes to show you that size doesn’t always matter when ...
15 Best European NBA Players of This Season
While the majority of the best NBA players have come from the ...
Kansas Players in the NBA
The Kansas Jayhawks are one of the greatest sports programs and have ...
Top Betting Sites
Top Betting Bonuses
Bet365 Review
BetMGM Review
FanDuel Review
Caesars Review
4.5/5 Review
Bet365 Bonus
First Bet Safety Net up to $1000 OR Bet $5 and Get $150
T&Cs apply
At bet365 we don't do ordinary, that's why if you sign up now you'll get the choice of two great New Customer Offers, the First Bet Safety Net up to $1000 or Bet $5 and Get $150 in Bonus Bets. Deposit required. Bonus Bets wager excluded from returns. T&Cs, time limits and exclusions apply. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler 21+
BetMGM Bonus
Up To $1500 in Bonus Bets Paid Back if your First Bet Does Not Win
T&Cs apply
FanDuel Bonus
Bet $5 Get $200 in Bonus Bets if your bet wins
T&Cs apply
Caesars Bonus
100% up to $1000
T&Cs apply
4.5/5 Bonus
Second chance bet: Get up to $500 in Bonus Bets
T&Cs apply

21+ and present in VA. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER.

This site is using Cloudflare and adheres to the Google Safe Browsing Program. We adapted Google's Privacy Guidelines to keep your data safe at all times.

Virginia Town Hall
Your Promo Code:
The bonus offer of was already opened in an additional window. If not, you can open it also by clicking the following link:
Play now