Tattoo percentage: 57% (8 players with tattoos, 6 without)
Last year I noted that it was the Pistons’ veterans-Hamilton, Wallace, and McGrady-who had the most tattoos while their younger players, Austin Daye and Greg Monroe, avoided them. This year they added a few young players, including Brandon Knight, who’s also tattoo-free, but Macklin and Russell are heavily covered. I’m psyched to see what this team looks like in a year or two.
Players with tattoos:
Among Macklin’s “Forty or something” tattoos, the name “Rashawn Finney” tattooed on his left forearm is one of the most treasured, according to a Gatorsports.com article. Finney, one of Macklin’s best friends from childhood, was murdered at the age of 18. “I rub this every game before tipoff,” Macklin explained to Gatorsports, “every time before I go on the [free-throw] line.”
Players without tattoos:
About one-sixth of NBA players have a tattoo of a basketball. It makes sense, lots of people commemorate their passions via tattoos: cyclists, chefs, shredders, LL Cool J. Still, what’s amazing is that every team has at least one player with a basketball tattoo, even the Hornets, who only have two tattooed players. Basketball tattoos range from iconic (Jordan jumpman; NBA logo), to narcissistic (Carlos Boozer’s self portrait), to symbolic (basketball wearing a crown, basketball meshed with a cross), to weird (Rip Hamilton’s gravestone). Going division by division, Every Team’s Got One will sort out the the highlights across the league, continuing here with the Central division. Click HERE to view other divisions.
Onetime teammates Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups are both willing to put up with pain for the right reward:
Chauncey Billups: No Pain, No Fame:
Ben Wallace: No Pain, No Game:
Tattoo percentage: 67% (10 players with tattoos, 5 without)
The Pistons are currently one of the most tattooed teams in the league. While tattoos in the NBA seemed to reach their peak in the mid-2000s, in the years following Iverson’s dominance, it’s Detroit’s oldest players—Rip Hamilton, Ben Wallace, and Tracy McGrady—who have the most tattoos on the team, and the players in their mid-20s, who got their start during AI’s era, that avoided them.
Players with tattoos:
Bynum demonstrated considerable confidence in himself by getting the NBA logo tattooed on his arm in high school.
Gordon’s left arm manages to combine two of the most popular themes for NBA tattoos—basketball and religious iconography—into one design where an angel bequeaths a ball to a prostrate figure.
Rip Hamilton has a few tattoos, including a tribute to his grandfather and a lion. He described one of his favorites for the NBA mailbag: “I have R.I.P. coming out the ground on a tombstone that means basketball for life, basketball till I die. Yeah.”
Has a tattoo on his left shoulder.
McGrady, who has suffered a lot of criticism from announcers and analysts, has a response on his right shoulder, just below a speeding basketball and his nickname. Against a curled scroll, a poignant bit of scripture: “AND EVERY TONGUE THAT SHALL RISE UP AGAINST THEE IN JUDGEMENT SHALL BE COMDEMNED—ISAIAH 54:17.”
Stuckey’s right shoulder features an elaborate design with what appears to be a skyline, a river, and a prince holding a basketball.
Summers has both arms well covered, but it’s his first tattoo, acquired in high school, that he looks to for comfort: “‘It has my name on it,’ says his mother, Twana, a supermarket meat cutter who raised her three kids alone in Baltimore after her husband died when DaJuan was just 3. ‘And it has the names of [his sister] Regina and [brother] Malik. He says when things get tight, he grabs that tattoo.’”
While the literal embrace of his nickname, Big Ben, is his most distinct tattoo, Wallace’s “No Pain No Game” design has a direct message that speaks to his physical game.
Bucking the trend of young players not getting tattoos because it might mess up sponsorship deals, White entered the league at 20 years old with almost-full sleeves, including a lengthy text passage on his right wrist.
Wilcox has a sunburst on his right shoulder, and a portrait of Christ on his left.
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.