Tattoo percentage: 60% (9 players with tattoos, 6 without)
The Rockets saw their tattoo percentage increase significantly from last year.
Players with tattoos:
There’s something about the stylized, bold lines of Delfino’s dragon tattoo that makes me think it’s a logo or from a flag or something, but I’ve never found any corollary. Someone did get a copy of it in 2009….
Motiejunas’s most well known tattoo is the eagle on his chest, however a photo of him receiving another tattoo on his stomach was revealed earlier this year on twitter.
Ohlbrecht has a tattoo of a tiger on his left arm. In an interview with the German sports website SPOX, Ohlbrecht explained that father has had the same tattoo for 40 years and this was the player’s way of bringing his father to all of the games.
Among his tattoos are the Washington Nationals logo (Robinson was born and raised in D.C.); the phrase “Success is Nothing Without Failure”; and the “F.O.E.” (Family Over Everything) tattoothat his Kansas teammates Josh Selby and Marcus and Markieff Morris also wear.
Players without tattoos:
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: 57% (8 players with tattoos, 6 without)
For most of the season, the Warriors have been my favorite team to watch play. I can’t always explain why, but I feel like an examination of their tattoos makes a good analogy for this preference. Monta’s clutch shooting this season has been fun, but more fun has been the nonchalance with which he makes them. His sideways, twisting leaps and scoop shots have the air of a dude having fun at the end of a day of shooting. Just messing around. After they drop, he barely ever celebrates, maybe smiles or raises a fist. This from a guy who got 14 tattoos one summer because he was bored and a homebody. And let’s not ignore the tattoos—somehow intense and good-natured at the same time. Likewise, Lou Amundson’s quiet fury (and occasional ineffectualness) on the court can be read in the intensity of his tattoo. Maybe the best expression of this team made up of discarded pieces from rebuilding teams in the east (Wright from Miami, Lee from the Knicks, Law from Atlanta) is Dorell Wright’s left shoulder, which reads “G.H.O.S.T.” They’re still getting everything together, but the team should have a lot of haunting ahead of it.
Players with tattoos:
Amundson’s sole tattoo is a heavy one: “It’s on the right side of his chest and has the words ‘R.I.P. 34’ surrounded by flames. He got the tattoo to commemorate the life of his best friend, Billy Feeney, a teammate at Monarch High School in Louisville, Colorado, and a player for the University of New Mexico Lobos. Feeney hanged himself in August 2003. Amundson doubts he’ll get another tattoo.”
Bell is one of four Michigan State players (alongside Antonio Smith, Mateen Cleaves, and Morris Peterson) who got a Flint tattoo to represent their shared hometown in 1999.
A Sports Illustrated profile in 2009 described Curry’s minimal tattoo: “His lone tattoo, discreetly inked on the inside of his left wrist, is the motto of Davidson, the small college he guided to the Elite Eight in 2008. “T.C.C.”: Trust, Commitment, Care.”
One of the most heavily tattooed players in the league, Ellis got his start the summer following his rookie year, according to a 2010 USA Today profile: “It started four years ago, when Ellis, 25, who admits to being bored and a homebody, was back home in Jackson, Miss., and Memphis. He got 14 tattoos during an offseason.” The narrative on his back is incredibly detailed, tracing his own relationship with basketball from milkcrate days to his current reign as Warriors’ captain.
While playing for Atlanta in 2009, Law kept a blog. The day after the Hawks lost in the second round of the playoffs to Cleveland, Law got some old tattoos touched up and embellished, and posted photos to his blog.
It’s impossible to make out the design, but Lee has something tattooed on his back that peeks out of his jersey occasionally.
Williams has a portrait tattooed on his left shoulder.
In 2009, tattoo artist Raphael Gere Rodriguez posted photos of the “love hate skull” design he did for Wright. I didn’t even know “love hate skull” was a thing.
Players without tattoos:
Jeff Adrien: confirmed that he has no tattoos on Twitter
Al Thornton: Thorton’s mother discussed the reason he wouldn’t ever get a tattoo in a Los Angeles Times article: “’ He knows his mom,’ said Philomenia Thornton. ‘We don’t do tattoos. Maybe one day, that might be something that might help him. People will look for someone clean cut with no tattoos and someone that listens to their mama.’”
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.