Tattoo percentage: 50% (7 players with tattoos; 7 without)
Last year, I used this space to complain about Jeff Foster and Josh McRoberts, neither of whom are now on the Pacers. More embarrassingly, the accompanying photo of Solomon Jones is from his days on the Hawks. While the Pacers have one of the lowest tattoo percentages of NBA teams, I have to say their tattoos are really interesting and kind of unsolvable, which I appreciate.
Players with tattoos:
Amundson’s sole tattoo was described in a 2009 Phoenix New Times article about tattoos on the Suns. That Phoenix team included Shaq, STAT, and Matt Barnes, so the article is mostly given over to their work, but buried in the text is this heartbreaking description of Amundson’s tattoo: “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.”
In May of 2011, Hill posted a photo of a new tattoo on his twitter page. The design features the state of Indiana with a star emerging from Hill’s birthplace, Indianapolis. In June of 2011, Hill was traded from the Spurs to the Pacers. Homecoming!
Playing in a summer league at the age of 15, Stephenson so impressed Bobbito Garcia that Bobbito gave him the nickname “Born Ready,” citing the young guard’s ability to go up against older players, even NBA players. Stephenson had the nickname tattooed on his shoulder alongside the skyline of Coney Island, where he grew up.
For a 2008 Sports Illustrated profile, West discussed the tattoos on his wrist, one reading “LIVE FREE” and the other reading “BLACK SOUL.” He described the former as “self-explanatory,” but was much more enigmatic about the latter: “It has to do with a dark mystery I’m associated with; I won’t talk about that.”
Players without tattoos:
No longer on roster:
Jeff Foster: no tattoos
Tattoo percentage: 35% (5 players with tattoos, 9 without)
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the handful of tattoos that grace Salt Lake City’s players revolve around Christ or Christ-like figures with basketballs: new recruit Derrick Favors has a glowing Jesus cradling a ball, while 10+ year journeyman Raja Bell has a lion standing watch over the ball. It’s also unsurprising that the Jazz have one of the lowest tattoo percentages in the league.
Players with tattoos:
For most of the decade, Bell’s right shoulder displayed a tribute to his sister’s fiance, Chris Campbell, a college linebacker who died in a car crash in 2002. The design included Campbell’s jersey number (48) and his favorite saying: “Y’all don’t see da dawg.” In recent years, this tattoo has been overcome by a larger half-sleeve design that covers it completely.
His Jesus with possession tattoo was featured in Dime Magazine’s best new ink column in 2010.
Harris has a slowly-growing design on his left bicep that seems to have a few details added each year.
Millsap has a pair of praying hands tattooed on his left arm.
When they were teammates on the Sonics, Kevin Durant described Watson’s backpiece as one of his favorites in the league: “Earl has a cool one on his back that says, ‘La Familia [ the family]’ with the cars on the back, I like that one, too.”
Players without tattoos:
Andrei Kirilenko: Kirilenko believes that tattoos are a mistake, and is out to prove to the youth that they can be expressive in other ways, for example, his variety of hairstyles: “I’m just trying to bring a new energy to the game because basketball becomes so routine. If we are role models for young kids, it’s better to mess with your hair than tattoos, piercing, smoking or drinking. Young kids want to prove their independence. I’m here to show them it’s better to mess with your hair than anything else.”
C.J. Miles: no tattoos yet, but he’s thinking about it…
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.