When you think about Horace Grant, two things come to mind: championships with the Bulls and his iconic goggles. After the release of “The Last Dance,” some will also associate him with calling MJ a snitch. But championships and goggles mostly.
There’s a story behind him rocking his goggles and believe it or not; it wasn’t purely for medical reasons. Grant discovered he didn’t need the specs for most of his playing career but did it for different reasons.
“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 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.”Horace Grant, SB Nation
So Horace wanted to remain a role model. He wanted kids who are bullied on the playgrounds to say: “I’m wearing goggles because Horace Grant is wearing goggles.” He made wearing goggles cool helped a lot of kids feel confident.
However, there was a brief period when Grant played without his trademark. It happened in 1991 during the playoff series vs. the Knicks. It wasn’t about comfort, but more about Charles Oakley pulling them off when the officials weren’t looking. Grant didn’t want to give him that advantage, so he took them off.
Grant shot the air ball in his first field-goal attempt vs. the Sixers in the second round of that same playoffs. He finished the series shooting .540 from the field, and followed it up with almost .700 shooting against the Pistons. There seemed to be no problem. But the team’s ophthalmologist David Orth thaught otherwise.
“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.” Jordan RulesDavid Orth, The Jordan Rules
The Bulls made the finals, and Horace opened the series with an inefficient eight-point game. It was a bad opener for him, so he decided it was time to put the goggles back on. The General bounced back with a 10-for-13 shooting night, dropping 20 points in a blowout win against Magic’s Lakers. The Bulls beat them in five, and Grant finished the series averaging 14.6 PPG and 7.8 RPG, shooting .627 from the floor.
It’s hard to tell whether it was because of the goggles. The stats show some correlation between the two, as his game improved after he put them back on. It turned out great for the Bulls and Horace himself. I’m just hoping that shortsighted kids didn’t suffer during goggles-free games.