Tattoo percentage: 47% (7 players with tattoos, 8 players without)
If you look at last year’s page for the Blazers, you’ll note that this year I’m just replicating all of the text I wrote then, as opposed to other teams where I’ve tried to provide new information/research. For the Blazers I’ve decided to phone it in in an act of solidarity with the 2011-12 Blazers team.
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.”
Players from Seattle tend to have a lot of tattoos (Nate Robinson, Jason Terry, Terrence Williams) and Crawford is one of the heaviest. On his left shoulder is one of the dreamiest basketball-themed tattoos in the league: against a background of heavenly clouds, a hoop glows, with “Jamal” lettered across the backboard in Olde English.
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.”
Nolan Smith was nine years old when his father, NBA champion Derek Smith passed away at the age of 34 from a previously undetected heart defect. A 2008 profile published by ESPN during Nolan’s freshman year at Duke described the tattoo tribute the son has for his father:
Years later, when Nolan was 16, he asked Monica if he could get a tattoo. She first refused, then changed her mind when he said he wanted one of his father.
“I said, ‘You can get that, but you have to wear it with honor and integrity,’ ” Monica said. “That’s the only tattoo he’ll ever have.”
The green ink on Nolan Smith’s right biceps reads “Forever watching”. Below that is 4RIP3, and a sketch of his father’s face, followed with “Derek Smith 1961-1996”.
“I have this tattoo on my arm,” Nolan said, “and I remember him at all times.”
Players without tattoos:
No longer on roster:
Armon Johnson: no tattoos
Greg Oden:Oden entered the league with a tribute to his deceased best friend over his heart, as described by a New York Times piece.
Mehmet Okur: no tattoos
Tattoo percentage: 57% (8 players with tattoos, 6 without)
I watched a lot of games on my phone this season, which is kind of a weird unsatisfying thing to do. Sometimes the signal wasn’t so strong and the players would pixellate, which would make it feel like I was playing NBA Jam on Game Gear. Most times there wasn’t enough detail to tell the players apart, unless I knew the team’s spacing really well, and could recognize, for example, that Dorell Wright was the only one on the Warriors who would lurk in the corner like that. Not so with the Clippers. From Aminu’s rangy, boneless arms to Jordan crashing under the basket to Griffin’s superhumanity, the Clippers were a bunch of distinctive dudes this year, even on a two by four inch screen. Their tattoo game was not as distinctive, but does reveal some interesting things about their squad.
Players with tattoos:
Aminu didn’t make as much noise as people expected this year, missing a lot of easy shots and forcing bad plays. Still, he was a rebounding monster, and when he followed one up with a full-court rush, it was pretty much magic. So how facile that a guy who has only shown flashes of what he really is only has tattoos on the inside of his biceps, showing only glimpses of the designs. Psyched to see what’s next for him.
Bledsoe has a tattoo on his right arm that covered his bicep last summer but had extended as far as his wrist by the all-star break.
One of the most heartbreaking tattoos in the league (or that I’ve heard of, period), Foye has a tattoo of his mother over his heart. Raised by his two grandmothers after his father died and his mother ran out on the family, Foye marked his 22nd birthday with this tribute to his absent parent. A 2006 interview painted yearning, not forgiveness as the inspiration for the design: “If my mom was here today, she would probably be the most important person in my life. I know how I treat my grandmother and I put my grandmother in her place on a pedestal. I just felt as if I needed something of her attached to me, so I just put her over my heart.”
Has a tattoo on his chest that occasionally peeks out of his jersey.
Jordan covers a lot of ground in his tattoos, from tributes to family members, to hometown pride, to spirituality, to a noble lion. A recent DIME Magazine profile goes through all of his tattoos with commentary. A standout is his left forearm, which shows a half-skull/half-earth sphere surrounded by text. Jordan described the design and elaborated on its meaning: “It says, ‘Don’t gain the world and lose your soul.’ It’s a Bob Marley quote. It’s a circle, but it’s half a skull and half the Earth. I just didn’t want to get caught up in materialistic things and forget who I am and where I come from.”
At the end of the 2009-2010 season, Moon responded to fan questions via the Cleveland Cavaliers website. The first asked him what his favorite tattoo was, and he responded that it was the one on his right arm: “My favorite tattoo is my right arm tattoo. It’s a cross with a basketball on top with a dog in the middle. It’s the three things I love the most. I love God, I love basketball and I also love dogs.”
Warren has two different joker/basketball tattoos. Although they’re thematically close to many NBA tattoos, in a 2009 pre-draft profile, Warren described the meaning embedded in the two designs: “On my right arm, I have a joker with a basketball in the background. The one on my left arm is a joker with a basketball jersey on, No. 32. Me and my mom wore No. 32 in high school, so that was something I got for me and my mom. Of course, I won a state championship and she didn’t.”
Clearly one of the most tattooed players on the team, Williams and six of his high school friends had “La Familia” tattooed on their legs, representing a deep bond that he explained to Cleveland’s Plain Dealer: “It signifies us as a unit forever. No matter what direction we go in life, we know we’re ‘La Familia.’ We’re together, no matter what happens. That’ll be with me forever.”
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.