Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is known as the best center in NBA history, for he used his towering height and skill on the court perfectly. Aside from these athletic attributes, he was famous for wearing goggles in his games. Why did Kareem Abdul Jabbar wear goggles?
Some think Kareem wore goggles to prevent eye injuries, while others speculate it was his way of combatting medical conditions. Whatever the reason may be, this peculiar trait became his iconic signature, making him buzz-worthy.
In this article, we’ll explore why Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wore those goggles and how they became symbols.
When Did Kareem Start Wearing Goggles?
The legendary NBA icon Kareem Abdul Jabbar first had goggles in 1974 until he retired. However, the reason behind it occurred even before he debuted in the NBA league. During his time at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the1960s, his opponent accidentally scratched the left cornea of his eyes.
Although he did not wear any basketball glasses after that, it undoubtedly left a lasting impact on his eye health. When he joined the NBA league, his eye condition was not poor until 1974. The same incident prevented him from playing for 16 games when he played for the Milwaukee Bucks.
After sitting out, Kareem shocked everyone by returning to wear sports goggles. The apparent reason is that he does not want to damage his eyesight, which might cost him his career. He continued wearing goggles for the rest of his basketball career.
Since his eye injury started during a high school game, the second time he experienced he almost damaged his eyesight in 1974 made him prioritize eye protection during his basketball career.
In particular, Kareem dealt with a medical condition called corneal erosion syndrome, making his eyes sensitive to bright lights. Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s sports goggles allowed him to extend his basketball legacy and give his best in every game.
These goggles became iconic in his illustrious years as a basketball player. This symbolized his greatness and made him stand out from the rest of the NBA players—both in skills and fashion! The good thing is that these goggles did not cause him to slack in the game.
What Type of Goggles Did Kareem Wear?
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had basketball protective goggles with clear lenses. These goggles were designed to keep his eyes safe from potential injuries. Most of all, he wore these goggles to block bright light caused by a medical condition called corneal erosion.
Kareem’s eye condition started worsening during his collegiate basketball years at UCLA after an opponent accidentally hurt his eyes while playing. Unfortunately, he experienced the same incident the second time in 1974, causing him to wear basketball goggles for the rest of his career.
These excellent goggles were made with high-quality materials, providing him with the comfort and protection he needed. Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s goggles’ price rose to $30,000 at an auction. Another essential feature is its clear lenses, allowing him an unobstructed vision.
As you all know, clear eyesight is crucial for any basketball player. The decision to wear goggles was brought up during the first incident in high school. Fortunately, he had no problem after high school until the second incident in 1974.
The good thing is that the basketball goggles that Kareem Abdul Jabbar wore were of excellent quality and were made to withstand the physical demands of basketball. Some fans were worried that it would prevent him from performing at his best, but Kareem proved them working by retiring with flying colors.
Why Did Kareem Play With Goggles?
Kareem played with goggles because he wanted to protect his eyes after experiencing two serious accidents that hurt his eyes. Another reason is he was sensitive to bright light due to a medical condition called corneal erosion.
During his time as a player for UCLA in 1968, Kareem injured his eyes because an opponent accidentally scratched his left eye. It did not end there. He experienced the same accident again in 1974, which caused him to sit out in 16 games.
When he came back to playing, he shocked everyone by wearing goggles. He also developed an eye condition that made him very sensitive to bright lights called corneal erosion.
Kareem was left without an option but to wear basketball goggles since he did not want to give up his basketball career. These googles helped him get protected on the court and also helped him have a better vision.
5 Other Notable NBA Players Who Wear Goggles
In case you did not know, wearing goggles on the court is not an unfamiliar situation in the NBA, as there were players in the past who wore goggles as well. Below are three of the players who were known to have worn goggles in a basketball game.
1. Hakeem Olajuwon
Although Hakeem did not wear goggles for most of his career, he was forced to do so in the 1990s. During one of his games, Hakeem fractured his orbital bone near the eyes. The injury did not stop him from leading the Rockets to two championships.
2. James Worthy
Another player who wore goggles during his career was James Worthy. He was a three-time NBA champion but scratched his cornea in his games in 1985. Despite that, the goggles helped him to become an influential player on the court.
3. Horace Grant
If there is one player who has worn goggles the most, it would be Horace Grant. Grant was legally blind, so he needed to wear goggles to see what was happening around him.
4. Reggie Jackson
Reggie Jackson, who was drafted in 2011 by the Oklahoma City Thunder, wore basketball goggles. He decided to wear one after he scratched his eyes in a fierce game against the Phoenix Suns in 2021.
5. Amare Stoudemire
He was known as a powerful dunker from the 2000s to the early 2010s. He started wearing goggles after a torn iris and a detached retina in the 2008 to 2009 NBA season.
As you can tell, wearing goggles is not a new thing in the NBA, as it is a way for players to protect their injured eyes or prevent themselves from having an injury. It is so nice to know that most players who wore goggles were the best of their time, proving that wearing them is not a problem.
Wrapping Things Up: Why Did Kareem Abdul Jabbar Wear Goggles?
Kareem Abdul Jabbar is undeniably an icon in the NBA. However, he shocked everyone in 1974 when he returned with goggles on in his games until he retired. Why did Kareem Abdul Jabbar Wear Goggles?
The reason why he wore it was to protect himself from getting severe eye conditions. An opponent scratched his cornea back in high school and experienced the same thing in 1974. After that, he started wearing them. Plus, he had corneal erosion, which makes you sensitive to bright lights.
There is no shame in wearing goggles on the court. Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s stats were at his peak even with his eye condition, so you can too!
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