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Brad Rock: NBA press conferences are now spec-tacular

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 9:39 a.m. MDT

Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook, left, and small forward Kevin Durant show off their glasses.   (Associated Press) Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook, left, and small forward Kevin Durant show off their glasses. (Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — Anyone who follows the NBA knows that post-game press conferences these days look a lot like a Drew Carey family reunion. Glasses are everywhere.

High fashion eye wear: It's not just for chemistry majors anymore.

Of all the goofy sports fashions that occur, few are stranger than this: Horn-rimmed glasses in the interview room. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Glen Davis, Amar'e Stoudemire, Kevin Garnett and Russell Westbrook have each shown up in glasses during the postseason, often without prescription lenses — or any lenses at all.

Little do they know it doesn't actually make them look smarter, it only makes them look like Buddy Holly. My only question is whether they buy them at a pricey eye-wear boutiques or All-A-Dollar.

Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade participates in a news conference after Game 1 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Tuesday, June 12, 2012, in Oklahoma City. The Thunder won 105-94. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)  (Associated Press) Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade participates in a news conference after Game 1 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Tuesday, June 12, 2012, in Oklahoma City. The Thunder won 105-94. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) (Associated Press)

Either way, I imagine Kurt Rambis is really ticked. Glasses didn't get cool until he stopped wearing them.

Such nerdiness is in direct contrast to the old days. Used to be that athletes wanted us to believe they all had 20-20 vision, if not better. In school they made fun of the guys who wore specs. Now it's the nerds who are the best players on the court. The stars don't wear glasses in games, as Rambis did 25 years ago, but they certainly do afterward.

Sometimes they'll fashion an ensemble that includes an argyle or letter sweater, jeans and a wrinkled, untucked cotton shirt.

They look like they came straight out of a 1961 high school yearbook.

This style didn't actually become fashionable for athletes until recently. Spectacles were a sign of bookishness, which wasn't highly valued in sports. Considering an estimated 75 percent of American adults need vision correction and 64 percent actually do wear glasses, it's a wonder specs haven't been more popular with the superstar crowd.

Occasionally someone actually did break through. George Mikan, the first famous big man in basketball, wore glasses wherever he went, including the court. Then there was Bob Griese, the NFL quarterback who wore specs beneath his face guard. He looked vaguely like a guy in a World War I gas mask.

Others followed, and in some cases the results were fairly spec-tacular. For instance, nobody ever called Reggie Jackson a nerd. He was Mr. October. It just so happened he had the eyesight of Mr. Magoo.

Yet for the most part, no one wore glasses if they didn't need to. Now a person can't visit a restaurant without running into some star wearing frames. James usually goes with basic black, as heavy and thick as a garden hose. Wade has been known to wear even thicker black or gray goggles, tortoise shells or flip-ups like Dwayne Wayne in "A Different World."

Westbrook has tried everything, including bright blue and candy apple red. Durant typically chooses something dark and low key.

Great, just when laser surgery starts becoming affordable to the masses, athletes are promoting myopia awareness.

Wade told South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde: "I don't know what the statement is. Everybody wants to look smarter than what they are, I guess. I don't know."

Businessweek recently interviewed James' stylist, Rachel Johnson, about the proper time to wear non-prescription glasses. Her response: "When you're in a business meeting or any situation in which a gentleman needs to present himself in a very serious light. It's a great way to change the way people perceive you."

Does this mean Westbrook's bonehead foul at the end of Game 4 of the NBA finals is now forgiven?

In any case, the studious look seems destined to stay around awhile. Which is good, if you ask me. It erases some old stereotypes. Plus, with athletes and models sporting rumpled shirts, beard stubble and geeky glasses, I figure it's now safe for me to go out in public looking exactly as I do when I first wake up.

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