The UCLA Bruins (19-7, 9-4 Pac-12) practiced on Tuesday, the third day of their current eight-day break between games, but star freshman Shabazz Muhammad was unable to take the court.
Shabazz Muhammad (15), Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
According to a report from ESPN, Muhammad was suffering from a case of conjunctivitis, or as many would call it—pink eye.
This is the latest in a saga of setbacks for Muhammad, who missed the first three games of the season due to an ongoing NCAA amateurism investigation. Now, following several illnesses that forced him out of practice over the course of the year, the ultra-talented G/F had to ride the pine again.
Head coach Ben Howland wasn’t too concerned about the conjunctivitis, calling it just a “swollen” eye and expecting to have Muhammad available for USC preparation on Thursday.
But Howland did interject his two cents about Muhammad’s fashion choices, and no, we aren’t talking about Gucci backpacks.
One of the staples of Muhammad’s wardrobe is his pair of oh-so-original fake glasses, an accessory that has exploded in popularity in the basketball community recently (thanks in part to former UCLA star Russell Westbrook).
Muhammad has been rocking the nerd glasses since his first moment as a Bruin, a live interview on ESPN for his commitment announcement back in April.
Shabazz Muhammad, Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
And while most of the youth community and an increasing number of NBA players have joined this new fashion trend, Howland seems to be behind the times.
The 10th-year head coach was convinced in his Tuesday presser that Muhammad would have been able to practice, despite the pink eye, had he just owned some “normal” glasses. Here’s a quote from Howland about the freshman’s fashion sense.
"If he had a pair of glasses, he could have practiced today. He doesn’t own a normal pair of glasses, so we’ve got to help him get a pair for these kinds of emergencies. He has the fashion glasses."
Okay, I understand being a little out of touch with what the kids are up to these days; even I struggle to keep up with the younger generation sometimes. But is Howland serious? “Fashion glasses”? There has to be a better way to phrase that, at least so he can sound like he has somewhat of a pulse on what’s popular in the pro league.
After all, it was his former protege that started to nerd-out during his post-game interviews. If it hadn’t been for Westbrook, Muhammad (and hundreds of other teenage basketball players), wouldn’t be caught dead in a pair of thick-rimmed, black spectacles.
Maybe I’m being too hard on Howland. I can’t expect a 55-year old man, who has always been known for an “old-school” mentality, to be up on the latest in the youth fashion world.
But then again, isn’t he the one sitting in recruits’ living rooms, selling UCLA and trying to convince 17-year-olds to come to Westwood?
Just food for thought.