Tattoo percentage: 40% (6 players with tattoos, 9 without)
The Rockets raised their tattoo percentage just a touch from last year.
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.”
Lee credits his entire professional career to the guidance and mentoring of Danny Rumph, a promising point guard who died of a heart condition at the age of 21. The two met at Western Kentucky University, where Rumph’s positive influence kept Lee in school and focused on basketball. Following Rumph’s death, Lee designed a tribute to his friend, tattooed on his right arm. As described by Fran Blinebury for NBA.com:
“The tattoo on his right biceps is a drawing of his friend wearing his Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap on his head, with wings sprouting from his shoulders and holding a basketball with the No. 11 inside. A couple of other Western Kentucky teammates, Anthony Winchester and Elgrace Wilborn, have the same tattoo that Lee had sketched out.”
Morris was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 14th pick in the 2011 NBA draft. His twin brother, Markieff Morris, was taken by Phoenix with the 13th pick. This is the first year these identical twins have played apart, after years together in youth leagues, high school, and three years with the Kansas Jayhawks. They even had the same major (American Studies) at college. The pair also share identical tattoo designs, including one that reads “FOE” which stands for Family Over Everything; one that reads “Death is a Promise”; and one that reads “Twin Towers.”
A U-T San Diego article written during Thomas’s years at San Diego State University discusses the player’s relationship with his daughter. One paragraph describes the tattoo he received several days before her birth: “Thomas had a tattoo added to his right arm, next to the one for his mother. It is a rose with “Mikeala” written beneath it.”
Players without tattoos:
Kevin Martin: Martin is uninterested in tattoos, for several reasons: “I’m never going to get a tattoo. I don’t like needles, so I’m not going to let a needle on me. But I also want to be a clean-cut guy. That’s just how I am.”
Luis Scola: Once said tattoos are not cute (“no quedan lindos”)
No longer on roster:
Jeff Adrien: no tattoos
Tattoo percentage: 71% (10 with tattoos, 4 without)
The Bucks have had a tough time establishing an identity over the last few decades, with their marquee players falling to injury and many seasons passing without much note. In the last year this “fear the deer” movement has started though, and fittingly, the Bucks have assembled a bunch of oddballs and unpredictable players who can embrace both the silliness and the necessity of the slogan. Their tattoos follow suit.
Players with tattoos:
Bogut has a tattoo on his back but he’s not really willing to discuss it: “The tattoo is a mix of things, a lot of it is kind of personal,” he explained one one of those NBA.com player chats, “There’s some Australian stuff and also some Croatian stuff in it.” Which is hilarious considering all of the topics he is willing to open his big mouth about.
As a teenager, Brockman got a tattoo of the tree of life on his lower back, as did his older brother and sister. “My mom doesn’t like it at all,” he explained to the Seattle Times in 2008, “Neither does my dad. But it’s in a place where no one sees it. It’s something close to me and it reminds me of my brother and sister when I don’t get to see them for a long time. So I like it.”
Delfino sports a dragon on his left shoulder.
On Dooling’s left shoulder is a tattoo of a cross.
Douglas Roberts is great at twitter, his steady feed a mixture of funny observations, style tips, and hurting feelings. Given his many tattoos, a fan recently asked him for his advice, and CDR replied: “get somem original….& Them shits hurt really bad.”
Gooden has historically put a lot of effort into unconventional looks, such as this haircut or this beard. A 2007 Akron Beacon-Journal article focuses in on Gooden’s then-recent tattoo, his first new design since he was 15 years old. The article reports that the tattoo is Dali-like, featuring a melting clock, set to 11:11 for good luck. At opposite sides of the clock a pair of angels and a devil observe time, completing this fittingly outlandish design for Gooden. Still, nothing really beats actually seeing it.
During Jennings’ rookie year, he answered questions for a Hoops Hype interview, including one about his many tattoos: “On my right arm, it’s laugh now, cry later. It’s for all the haters who said I would never make it in life. And there’s a man holding a ball with a city behind him, which is basically me holding a basketball with my city behind me. On the left one, it’s my mom (Alice Knox) and my brother (Terrence). It shows I’m blessed.”
Maggette has a tattoo on his right shoulder.
Salmons has Chinese characters on his right arm. According to the website NiuBBall.com, it’s identical to Jermaine O’Neal’s Chinese tattoo, and means “person who sells coffins.”
Maybe ten years ago someone I knew had to spend some time in prison. He wasn’t exactly a tough guy, so before he went in he decided to get a tattoo that might make him look hard enough that he could avoid fights. He had two full-size pistols tattooed on his waistline, so it looked like the guns were tucked into his pants. It was an intense decision, and one that only half worked.
I’d never seen anyone else with the design until Sanders was drafted by the Bucks and this photo appeared on his twitter page.
Players without tattoos:
Luc Mbah a Moute
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.