Tattoo percentage: 47% (7 players with tattoos, 8 without)
I lived in Portland on and off for ten years. Despite it’s reputation as a place “where young people go to retire,” it’s not that easy a place to be young. For adolescents, there’s a serious curfew that’s been in effect for decades, allowing cops to stop young people on the street at night. Strict drug and alcohol laws, selectively enforced, helps encourage bar and nightclub commerce while giving lawmakers an excuse to shut down any party they’re not comfortable with. When I first moved there in 1996, there were signs everywhere for the city’s “anti-cruising” laws, which prohibited driving down the same street more than twice in an hour. Also there was no rap station when I moved there, not even an “urban” station that mostly played pop. The legend is that, when Rasheed Wallace was traded to the Blazers, he said there’s no way he’s moving to a city without a rap station. That year, Jammin’ 95.5 was born, playing commercial rap for the first time on Portland radio. It was shocking how mad it made people in the city.
I feel like it was this climate that birthed the late 90’s/early 2000’s so-called Jail Blazers, a team where maybe half the players had marijuana charges, Sheed rang up the bulk of his league record for technical fouls, Zach Randolph broke a teammate’s eye, and sadly fading vets like Shawn Kemp and Scottie Pippen seemed to look down on everyone. Suppression breeds violence. That Blazers squad was like the kids in Over the Edge, frustrated by the city’s suffocating anti-youth movement.
The team’s come a long way since then, hitting rock bottom before rebuilding. These days they’ve pulled together a squad of affable dudes that mesh with the city nicely. It follows that many of these dudes wouldn’t have tattoos. Portland in 2010-11 has a below-average percentage of tattooed players, and I think the city’s breathing a sigh of relief over that knowledge.
Players with tattoos:
While it’s notable that Aldridge has the most tattoos on the Blazers, it’s more notable that every one of his tattoos carries religious significance: praying hands, crosses, the text “KEEP GOD FIRST.” When asked about his collection, Aldridge simply replied, “Because I’m a man of strong faith. Strong beliefs.”
Canby has the Chinese characters for “strive” and “family” tattooed on his right shoulder. In an interview, Canby claimed to be one of the originators of Chinese character tattoos. When asked how he got on the path, he explained, “I was into a lot of Chinese flicks, a lot of kung fu movies.”
Among his several tattoos is a basketball with his initials.
To show his love for his mother, Matthews got a tattoo that reads “Dynamic Duo” for his eighteenth birthday. For an NBA.com article titled “Wesley Matthews: A Proud Mama’s Boy,” his mother recalled, “I wouldn’t let him get a tattoo until he was of legal age. He had little skinny arms then so it wasn’t a very big tattoo.”
Miller has a tattoo on his back, too obscured by his jersey to make out.
Oden entered the league with a tribute to his deceased best friend over his heart, as described by a New York Times piece.
I love Wallace’s tiger tattoo. It’s great that one of the most energetic and excitable players in the league has a super-calm, un-roaring, un-threatening tiger on his shoulder.
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.