Tattoo percentage: 87% (13 players with tattoos, 2 without)
Wow. In the past few months (sealing the deal with their last-minute trade today), the Clippers have gone from a team with an average number of tattooed players last year to the team with the most tattooed players by a good margin. Strangely, their two marquee players are their only two players without tattoos.
Players with tattoos:
On Billups’s left shoulder is a tattoo of a crowned figure spinning a basketball on his finger. Surrounding the figure are the words “King of the Hill,” a reference to the Denver neighborhood Billups grew up in. In an IGN Sports interview, Billups described it as his favorite tattoo, and explained the significance: “My neighborhood back home is called Park Hill. It’s a hood thing. All of my tats mean something.”
While on the Wizards, Butler wrote on his blog about tattoos: “Like many other guys in the NBA, I’m big on tattoos too. I may not be a league leader there, though, because I have just four of them. The tat that means the most to me is the one on my left arm. It says “Rest in Peace, Kailo”. That’s my cousin who died in a car accident. She was like a sister to me. I grew up with her and although she’s no longer here, I keep her with me.”
One of the most heartbreaking tattoos in the league (or that I’ve heard of, period), Foye has a tattoo of his mother over his heart. Raised by his two grandmothers after his father died and his mother ran out on the family, Foye marked his 22nd birthday with this tribute to his absent parent. A 2006 interview painted yearning, not forgiveness as the inspiration for the design: “If my mom was here today, she would probably be the most important person in my life. I know how I treat my grandmother and I put my grandmother in her place on a pedestal. I just felt as if I needed something of her attached to me, so I just put her over my heart.” Think about that next time you boo him.
Jordan has a lot of text tattoos: the serenity prayer; Matthew 5:4-5; G.W.O.M. (which stands for God Watch Over Me); Philippians 4:13; “Don’t take wooden nickels”; and a text he wrote himself on his bicep. According to a Dime Magazine profile, he can’t help it: “I mean I see a lot of writing and things like that, that I can relate to and I’m not like, ‘Oh, I should get it tattooed on me,’ but I just kind of like them so much that I want to get it.”
"I have another tattoo here that reads: ‘God’s Plan, My will.’ That’s why I work so hard and care so much. Basketball is what got me out of the projects. It got my momma the house she never had, the car she never had.
"Nobody is going to get the best of me. You might score more points than me, but you’re going to know you were in a dogfight."
Simmons has a tribute to his other brother, Tizoma, who died when Bobby was a junior in high school, tattooed on his right arm. When asked about the tattoo by The Journal Times, Simmons explained, “I think of him all the time. That’s why I had this (tattoo) done. That was the purpose for me getting this, so that he would never be forgotten.”
Young prepared for the 2010-11 season by having the word “FAITH” tattooed across his chest, a move he described in an interview: “‘It feels like a new birth. I’m just ready to take on any challenge. I’m trying to get tattoos and coming back totally new — a new Nick,’ Young said, flashing a grin, then flexing to show he has hit the weight room this summer to add another seven pounds of muscle. ‘I can stomach the big dogs this year.’”
Players without tattoos:
2011-12 NBA overall tattoo percentage: 55% [details]
2010-11 NBA overall tattoo percentage: 53% [details]
A player-by-player, team-by-team guide to tattoos in the NBA. It is not an attempt to document every tattoo of every player–rather it is an attempt to provide a series of tools for sorting overall tattoo statistics in the NBA alongside glimpses into tattoo trends. Click on any team name below for player details of that team:
Hawks - Celtics - Nets - Bobcats - Bulls - Cavaliers
Mavericks - Nuggets - Pistons - Warriors - Rockets - Pacers
Clippers - Lakers - Grizzlies - Heat - Bucks - Timberwolves
Hornets - Knicks - Thunder - Magic - Sixers - Suns
Trail Blazers - Kings - Spurs - Raptors - Jazz - Wizards
Click HERE for a complete list of NBA players discussed on this blog.
Disclaimer: This info is collected completely anecdotally, mostly by watching games, but also through study of photos, interviews, and player profiles. It’s very likely that tattoos have gone unobserved or remain hidden, especially on non-superstar players. Every effort has been made to present the best possible information, but statistics should not be considered definitive. Please use Ask Me to share any relevant information.