Tattoo percentage: 80% (12 players with tattoos, 3 without)
The easy thing to do would be to talk about Melo and Amar’e, about how the two most tattooed players on the team are the only vital players on the team. About how their tattoo coverage and content puts them in an elite top-20 category of tattooed players, much in the same way they’re both elite, top-20 talents. I’ve spent a lot of this year thinking about tattoos, and I’m certain there isn’t a single design as strangely intense as Stoudemire’s “Poverty/Prophecy” with the two different letterings and shared “P.” I have a similar fascination with Anthony’s “WHO CAN I TRUST” tattoo, with its missing question mark and its even block capitals that resemble the letters on the “do not open” terrorist watch posters at the post office. That Stoudemire has an N.W.A. logo tattooed on his shoulder, and the fact that he got it done in the last two years (instead of like, on his 16th birthday), makes me unspeakably happy.
But it’s just too hard for me to dismiss the rest of the team like that. This mutant combination, built from Zeke-era insanity, Walsh’s scorched earth policy, and baffling trade acquisitions, is necessarily impossible to wrap my head around. For whatever reason, the Knicks ended up tied with the Lakers for most tattooed players on one team in 2010-11, and that’s without Eddy Curry. Or Wilson Chandler, Nate Robinson, Starbury, Al Harrington, Quentin Richardson, or any of the other heavily tattooed guys to wear a Knicks uniform in the last few years. I have no idea what’s driving it, but it does make me happy.
Players with tattoos:
Anthony’s tattoos pretty much speak for themselves—flaming basketballs, West Baltimore, the Puerto Rican flag—so he doesn’t speak to them that often. When he does, it’s pretty funny, as in this interview with Complex:
Complex: Who’s your tattoo artist?
Carmelo: I go to a guy out of Atlanta. I don’t like to get stuck by too many people’s needles. One guy. I did most of them by myself, though.
Complex: Most of the tattoos? You serious?
Carmelo: No. [Laughs]
In 2007, Balkman arrived at training camp with the words “HUSTLE” and “HARDER” tattooed on his left and right calves, respectively. In 2010, Balkman added this motto to his eyelids.
When asked about the “No Pain, No Fame” tattoos on his arms, Billups replied, “that’s me right there. No one can outwork me.”
Carter has tattoos covering both arms.
Jeffries has a tattoo of a crowned basketball on his left arm.
Roger Mason Jr.
In 2007, Mason covered his left arm in a meticulous, richly-symbolic tribute to his father. “There’s references from five different centuries and three or four different genres of art,” his tattoo artist, Grant Cobb explained to the Washington Post. “It was something that kind of needed some work, but it means a lot to him, it was real personal….It was really cool to be able to do something like that for him.” Or, in the words of Mason’s then-teammate, DeShawn Stevenson, “that’s blazin’.” Mason himself feels indifferent to the praise: “”Everybody loves it who sees it, but the meaning is what’s important. That’s why I got it.”
Rautins has several tattoos: a maple leaf for his native Canada; his name on his bicep; and a tricky design that reads “family” in one direction and “forever” in the other. His father, who also played in the NBA and is currently coach of the Canadian national team and a commentator for the Toronto Raptors, also has the “family/forever” design tattooed on the back of his neck.
Stoudemire runs some of the most complicated and immediately recognizable tattoos in the league, designs that have earned him honors from Inked Magazine and saw him participate in PETA’s “Ink Not Mink” campaign.
Turiaf has some great tattoos including a lion’s head and the letters “N L F” for “Never Lose Faith,” but when asked to describe his tattoos in this video, he goes straight to the Chinese character on his neck: “”Well I have the first one right here on my neck and it means family because I’m a big family guy.”
During Walker’s rookie year, he had the number 1023 tattooed on his neck, which he explained to the Providence Journal was, “to remind myself to never forget where I came from.” Walker grew up at 1023 Minton St. in Huntington, West Virginia.
Williams has a tattoo on his left forearm.
In January of 2011, Atlanta’s Tattoos by Randy posted photos of Shelden Williams with a new tattoo on his chest.
Players without tattoos:
Landry Fields: confirmed he had no plans to get any tattoos on Twitter.
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.