He Could See Fine. But He Still Wore His Glasses.

On June 22, 1987, the National Basketball League (NBA) held its annual draft. With the tenth overall pick, the Chicago Bulls selected Horace Grant, a forward out of Clemson University. That may have disappointed the Washington Bullets, who two picks later, weren’t able to select Horace — he was already gone. But a year later, they got the next best thing. On June 28, 1988, the Bullets took Harvey Grant — Horace’s identical twin brother — with the 12th overall pick.

At the time, telling the two apart was difficult — but that changed before the 1990-91 NBA season. Let’s see if you can tell the difference between the two. Here’s a picture of them both on the court, looking up at the ball (I assume). 

(Apologies for the low quality of the image — it’s a screenshot from this video.)

The uniforms should have been your first clue — that’s Harvey on the left and Horace on the right. But there’s another difference: Horace is wearing glasses. And not just any glasses, but impossible-to-miss goggles.

The story behind the goggles, at least at first, is simple enough: Horace had trouble seeing. He explains on his official website: 

Horace recalls “one night after the game on the bus I’m reading a book and I had the book like three inches away from my face. And Johnny Bach, who was one of our defensive assistants, came up and said, ‘You need to get your eyes checked again.’” Following instructions, Horace goes on, “The next day I go in and I’m legally blind!” Despite passing the initial hearing and eyesight exam from the Bulls, Dr. David Orth determined Horace’s eyes were 20-40 in one and 20-80 in the other. Horace was declared legally blind, thus “the goggles were born”.

The googles became a trademark for Horace — here’s a better picture of him wearing them, this time from later in his career, as a member of the Orlando Magic. 

But by then, he may not have needed the eyewear. Later on in his career, as Grant explained in a community interview on reddit, the basketballer underwent LASIK surgery to correct his vision issues. The procedure was a success and Grant finished up his NBA career without needing glasses at all — but he kept wearing them anyway. The reason? Empathy, as he told the reddit community:

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.

Over the course of his career, Horace Grant won four NBA titles — and, presumably, the hearts of glasses-wearing kids everywhere.

Bonus fact: Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who plays Harry Potter in the movies, typically doesn’t wear glasses, but Harry Potter does — and that caused a little problem for Radcliffe early on in the movie’s production. As the BBC reported, “it turns out that Daniel, when he first started playing the role, was allergic to Harry’s glasses.” The glasses had a nickel alloy in them and Radcliffe started developing bumps around his nose and eyes where the glasses touched his face; the producers changed to hypoallergenic glasses and the bumps went away.

From the Archives: How Pride Makes Basketball Players Worse: When “doing well” means “looking dumb,” do players choose to not look silly? Probably.