Yesterday’s NY Post included an interview with Baron Davis in which he (sort of) talks about his tattoos during a pretty sweet memory of UCLA coach John Wooden:
Q: What’s your best John Wooden story?
A: 2007 maybe, 2006 … him, myself and Mike Warren, we went and we had breakfast. You read the books, and you know the “Pyramid of Success,” and you know about the legend and the mystique, and to just sit down and have breakfast — it’s like he went to the same place every day, he wore the same thing, and he was just … so humble. And it just taught me a huge lesson in life, about no matter how much praise and how much glory, or what people say about you, at some point in life you still have to be yourself, and you still have to live with who you are and who you want to be. He was funny. … We talked about basketball, we talked about life, we talked about guys in the NBA with tattoos (laugh).
Q: What did he say about that?
A: He was like, “Do you have any tattoos?” I was like, “Yeah I have two.” He was like, “Well I don’t see ’em.” And I told him that I have one on my chest in the front and one on my back, and I told him what it was. And he was like, “OK, but I don’t like the guys with all the tattoos on their sleeves,” and I was like, “All right, Coach, that’s just the style nowadays.” (laugh). I remember afterwards, everywhere I was going, I was like, “Hey man, I just had breakfast with John Wooden!”
Tattoo percentage:67% (10 players with tattoos, 5 without)
Last year the Knicks tied with the Lakers for the team with the most tattooed players. There isn’t anything really to be read into the numbers, or the decline—both rookies have tattoos, and their key free agency pickup (Tyson Chandler) has some of the most distinctive designs in the league. A lot of good stories in this collection of tattoos…
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]
One of the storylines of the Mavericks’ 2011 championship was Chandler’s maturation. In the offseason, this development manifested itself in his tattoos. He’s in the process of having his first tattoo—a flaming basketball with his name under it—removed. His newest work is a portrait of his son, which is not only one of my favorite designs in recent memory, but also furthers this idea of turning away from self-involvement (tattoo of his name) to the world around him (tattoo of family).
There’s also some evidence in his tattoos that he’s more self-possessed and able to stand on his own. Last March I pointed out that he has an almost-identical tattoo to Allen Iverson. These days he’s filled the design out and added a bunch of work around it, making it his own.
Although it’s mostly hidden by his jersey, Harrellson has a tattoo of a cross in memory of his grandfather. The Lexington Herald-Ledger article that shares that info also mentions that Jorts “visits children’s hospitals and homeless shelters. He regularly goes to the Humane Society to play with the dogs. ‘I don’t think they get enough love and affection up there,’ he said.”
Smith is one of the most heavily tattooed players in the league. This profile from Dime Magazine which covers both his Yankees-flipping “Young Money” neck tattoo and his “married to the game” ring finger NBA tattoo (which includes “I Do” in script) best covers the spectrum of his work.
If I didn’t do this blog I would do a blog that charts out all of the NBA references in Brick Squad songs. “You know Flocka shoot first like John Starks” being my favorite. This French Montana song about Amar’e Stoudemire is pretty likable, even if it’s a little direct. Also, I’m skeptical of the edit but I like thinking that STAT still has a kickflip. Anyway, there’s a visit to the tattoo parlor in the video which is why I’ve included it here. If you are interested in a rundown of all of Stoudemire’s tattoos, I recommend The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac.
During his rookie year, Walker had the number “1023” tattooed on his neck. The significance, as explained to the Providence Journal, was “to remind myself to never forget where I came from.” Walker grew up at 1023 Minton Street, in Huntington, West Virginia.
Players without tattoos:
No longer on roster:
Renaldo Balkman:Balkman has “HUSTLE” and “HARDER” tattooed on his calves and on his eyelids.
Tattoo percentage: 40% (6 players with tattoos, 9 without)
The Cavs have a below-average number of tattooed players and a dearth of interesting tattoos.
Players with tattoos:
Although its design is unknown, Davis does have a tattoo that peeks out of the side of his jersey occasionally.
Self-described momma’s boy Gee has an intense line of scripture tattooed on his right shoulder: “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” (Isaiah 54:17).
Gibson’s many tattoos earned him the cover of Urban Ink (alongside his lady Keyshia Cole).
Harris has tattoos on both arms, including “a shoulder tattoo of a wolf’s head with the inscription ‘Kill or be killed,’” according to a profile of the tattoo artist.
Hickson’s tattoos run up both arms and across his chest.
On Jamison’s left shoulder is tattooed a scene where an angel stands beneath a cross, a tribute to his grandmother who died when he was in high school. “Ever since she passed, she’s been my angel,” Jamison explained in a 2008 Washington Post article. “As a kid, I thought she was the only person that actually believed I could be an NBA player.”
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.