Why Do Some Basketball Players Wear Goggles?

Basketball match scene - for article on NBA Franchise Values Published for 2020

While lower in popularity in past years, basketball goggles are still prominent. 

There are many reasons that some basketball players have worn goggles in the past and still do so in the present day. Eye injuries are highly possible in basketball because it is a contact sport. Other players like wearing goggles because it enhances their focus while competing on the court. 

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Increased Chance of Eye Injuries

Imagine yourself playing on a professional basketball court. Whether you have watched the sport on national television or attended a live game, you can see the ball flying around the court as players pass it to one another. If a player’s reflexes are not quick enough or someone engages in a miscalculated throw, the ball could hit someone’s eyes or face. 

The University of Utah reports that some of the most common eye injuries for basketball players are injuries where the blood goes in the front of their eyes to cause vision loss, such as hyphema, hemorrhages, or hematomas. Corneas could get scratched or corneal flaps disconnected from their original placement if the ball lands a specific way on a player’s eyes.

Enhances Focus

Sports goggles usually have a coating on them that prevents reflections from coming off them. Hence, this helps to increase the player’s focus while playing so they can more readily catch and pass the ball to their teammates or make defensive plays as needed. 

Basketball stadiums are brightly lit just as any other sports venue. Glares from venue lights, someone’s smartphone, or flashes from photography can cause undesired distractions for players that are not wearing goggles. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know more about why some basketball players of the past and present have worn goggles, here are answers to your frequently asked questions about the topic. 

Which basketball players of the past wore goggles? 

Basketball players that have worn goggles in the past include:

  • Buck Williams of the Portland Trailblazers in 1990. 
  • Thurl Bailey of the Utah Jazz in 1983. 
  • Horace Grant of the Chicago Bulls in 1990. 
  • Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets in 1993. 

Do any current players wear goggles while on the court?

Wendell Carter Jr, the twenty-four-year-old center and power forward for the Orlando Magic, is the only player known in the NBA for sporting goggles regularly. He started wearing goggles when he began playing for Orlando Magic in 2021 after three years with the Chicago Bulls. When Orlando Magic faced off with the Nets in that 2021 season, Carter Jr got an abrasion on his left eye that made it so he had to wear goggles until it healed. From there on, he kept the goggles as his regular wardrobe piece on the court. 

It wasn’t until LeBron James picked up Carter Jr’s lenses during one game of Magic versus Lakers that they gained some attention. After the ball hit and shattered Carter Jr’s goggles, James picked up the lenses and wore them for a few seconds, causing a laugh amongst the crowd. 

Why do most basketball players choose not to wear goggles?

Many NBA players do not like wearing goggles because they do not look stylish on the court. Plus, sweating can cause the goggles to fog up from condensation during gameplay.  


Whether you are a weekend warrior playing at your local basketball court or a basketball professional in training, check out the best goggles to wear in 2023 while playing the sport.