Tattoo percentage: 47% (seven players with tattoos, eight without)
Now that the playoffs have begun, the discussion of how and when the Mavs will choke has begun again, with old ghosts haunting from past seasons. I’m not a fan of the team by any means, but I get a shiver of sympathy when I hear people laugh at them. The triumph of the 2007 Warriors isn’t the only source of amusement at Dallas’s expense: Jason Terry, and especially DeShawn Stevenson have tattoos that seem hilarious to observers, particularly Stevenson. I’m pretty sure even people who don’t follow basketball have gaped at the photo above. But when Stevenson and Terry start talking about their tattoos the emotion thickens like cement, choking off the giggles. Which is, I guess, their hope for how the playoffs run.
Players with tattoos:
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.”
Chandler’s website has a short video where he talks through all of his tattoos, including two different portraits (of his uncle and his daughter), his mother’s name, his wife’s initials, and his first tattoo: “I have a basketball on fire, with my name under it. That was my first tattoo, I was a youngster.”
For his rookie year, Jones manifested his love for the league by tattooing the NBA logo on his calf.
Kidd’s rarely seen panther tattoo speaks to his longtime love of big cats: “I got this tattoo so long ago. All the way back to about the time I was drafted by the Mavericks. I got it done at a shop in the Bay Area (San Francisco). I just like tigers, panthers, cats in general. I have always wanted to own a panther.”
Marion’s Chinese character tattoo on his calf was included in a New York Times article about poorly researched/translated tattoos: “Shawn Marion of the Phoenix Suns was under the impression that his nickname, ‘the Matrix,’ was tattooed on his leg, but Mr. Tang says the inscription translates as something like ‘demon bird moth balls.’”
Tattoos play a vital role in Stevenson’s life. The Abraham Lincoln tattoo on his neck has inspired a lot of laughter but his teammates have nothing but respect. In the words of Caron Butler: “That’s crazy to a lot of people, but not to me. I respect him if he wants to do that. It’s a way for him to celebrate what Lincoln did with the slaves.” Stevenson also has a crack tattooed on his forehead, which he explained at a 2009 media day: “‘I don’t crack,’ he said. ‘I feel like people always try to break me, but I don’t crack. So, I put that there.’” Perhaps the most intense Stevenson tattoo isn’t on his body. His father, Darryl Stevenson, who had dreams of become a pro basketball player, was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic when DeShawn Stevenson was an infant. As a result of a series of violent crimes culminating in the murder of his mother, Darryl Stevenson spent most of his son’s life in prison, and died in Corcoran State Prison the year that DeShawn graduated high school. Tattooed on his chest was one word: “DeShawn.”
Terry has a tattoo of Underdog, which he explained in a 2008 Dime Magazine interview: “I never was seen as one of the best players on the court ’til senior year of high school. Even at Arizona, I was not a starter ’til senior 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.