New Orleans Pelicans, 2013-14

Tattoo percentage: 33% (5 players with tattoos, 10 without)

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The Pelicans kept their tattoo percentage event with last season.

Players with tattoos:

Alexis Ajinca
Ajinca has a tattoo below his right ear that, as he explained to a reporter in 2010, is ” a symbol that means, ‘The great talent sent from God.’” Apparently it is also the logo for the TV series Heroes

Al-Farouq Aminu
Aminu plays for the Nigerian national basketball team and participated in the 2012 Olympics. The continent of Africa is tattooed on his left arm.

Anthony Morrow
The spiderweb-on-elbow tattoo developed in U.S. prisons, a marker of time served and/or spent waiting. Morrow’s elbow spiderweb has a dramatically different meaning, as he explained to Dime Magazine in 2013: “Yeah, I got the spider web, man. The spider web was basically… I wanted to intertwine all my family, and I feel like the better way was to put a spider web to show we all in it. We’re all in it together, sticking together. Everybody is sticking together.”

Austin Rivers
Rivers has “M.O.A.M.” tattooed on his left wrist, an acronym for “Man On A Mission”; “G.F.B.” on his right wrist, which stands for “God, Family, Basketball”; and the words “Dedicated” and “Determined” tattooed on the inside of his fingers. In this interview, he talks through each of them and mentions that he likes to keep his arms clean of tattoos.

Brian Roberts
Roberts has a tattoo on the inside of his left arm.

Players without tattoos:

Ryan Anderson
Luke Babbitt
Anthony Davis
Tyreke Evans
Eric Gordon
Jrue Holiday
Darius Miller
Jason Smith
Greg Stiemsma
Jeff Withey



Portland Trail Blazers, 2012-13

Tattoo percentage: 73% (11 players with tattoos, 4 without)

The Trail Blazers showed one of the largest leaps in tattoo percentage this year, with four more tattooed players than last year.

Players with tattoos:

LaMarcus Aldridge
Every one of Aldridge’s 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.”

Will Barton
The website High School Hopefuls interviewed Barton in his hometown of Baltimore. In the video, he discusses his tattoos, including the text “Where There’s a Will There’s a Way” on his back. As he explains: “My favorite tattoo right there. It’s a clever joint, you know, it’s biblical, it’s got my name in it… I live by that, in the biblical sense, and I live by it, in my name sense. You got me, you’re going to get it done!”

Joel Freeland
Freeland has a tattoo on his right arm.

J.J. Hickson
Hickson’s tattoos run up both arms and across his chest.

Jared Jeffries
Jeffries has a crowned basketball tattooed on his left arm.

Meyers Leonard
Blazers blogger Sarah Hecht shared a great anecdote from the 2012 media day about Leonard’s “Forever Blessed” tattoo:

When the cameraman asked him about the meaning behind the word “Forever” tattooed on his inner arm he leaned back a bit more and showed the word “Blessed” on his right arm. He chuckled a bit then responded, “It means blessed forever.”

Damian Lillard
Lillard has Psalm 37 tattooed on his left arm. He described the personal significance of the text to Sam Amick in a 2012 Sports Illustrated profile: “It’s about not letting anything sway you from what you believe; keep your faith strong.”

Wes Matthews
The recent article in the Oregonian, "Trail Blazers tattoos reveal players’ values" includes an interesting quote from Matthews about his most recent tattoos, the text “Much is earned through God’s blessing” on his right forearm and “Life comes and goes but legacies remain” on his left bicep: “Until I got these, if I wore a shirt, you would never know I had one. But these, they’re not gaudy and they mean something. They’re not an expression of ignorance.” 

Eric Maynor
Maynor took advantage of the lockout in 2011 to add a lot of tattoos to his story. When asked by Candace Buckner of the Columbian for the reason behind this burst of new work, Maynor responded with one word: “bored.”

Aleksander (Sasha) Pavlovic
Pavlovic has a tattoo on his right arm.

Nolan Smith
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:

Luke Babbitt
Nicholas Batum
Victor Claver
Elliot Williams



Portland Trail Blazers, 2011-12

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:

LaMarcus Aldridge
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.”

Jamal Crawford
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.

J.J. Hickson
Hickson’s tattoos
run up both arms and across his chest.

Wesley Matthews
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.”

Joel Przybilla
Among his several tattoos
are a basketball player on his right bicep accompanied by the text “Not in my house” and his wife’s name in a heart with roses.

Nolan Smith
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."

Shawne Williams
Williams has a tattoo on his left forearm.

Players without tattoos:

Luke Babbitt
Nicholas Batum
Raymond Felton
Jonny Flynn
Craig Smith
Hasheem Thabeet
Kurt Thomas
Elliot Williams

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



Portland Trail Blazers, 2010-11

Tattoo percentage: 47% (7 players with tattoos, 8 without)

I lived in Portland on and off for ten years. Despite it’s reputation as a place “where young people go to retire,” it’s not that easy a place to be young. For adolescents, there’s a serious curfew that’s been in effect for decades, allowing cops to stop young people on the street at night. Strict drug and alcohol laws, selectively enforced, helps encourage bar and nightclub commerce while giving lawmakers an excuse to shut down any party they’re not comfortable with. When I first moved there in 1996, there were signs everywhere for the city’s “anti-cruising” laws, which prohibited driving down the same street more than twice in an hour. Also there was no rap station when I moved there, not even an “urban” station that mostly played pop. The legend is that, when Rasheed Wallace was traded to the Blazers, he said there’s no way he’s moving to a city without a rap station. That year, Jammin’ 95.5 was born, playing commercial rap for the first time on Portland radio. It was shocking how mad it made people in the city.

I feel like it was this climate that birthed the late 90’s/early 2000’s so-called Jail Blazers, a team where maybe half the players had marijuana charges, Sheed rang up the bulk of his league record for technical fouls, Zach Randolph broke a teammate’s eye, and sadly fading vets like Shawn Kemp and Scottie Pippen seemed to look down on everyone. Suppression breeds violence. That Blazers squad was like the kids in Over the Edge, frustrated by the city’s suffocating anti-youth movement. 

The team’s come a long way since then, hitting rock bottom before rebuilding. These days they’ve pulled together a squad of affable dudes that mesh with the city nicely. It follows that many of these dudes wouldn’t have tattoos. Portland in 2010-11 has a below-average percentage of tattooed players, and I think the city’s breathing a sigh of relief over that knowledge.



Players with tattoos:

LaMarcus Aldridge 
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.”

Marcus Camby  
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.”

Chris Johnson
Among his several tattoos is a basketball with his initials.

Wesley Matthews
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.”

Andre Miller  
Miller has a tattoo on his back, too obscured by his jersey to make out.

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.

Gerald Wallace  
I love Wallace’s tiger tattoo. It’s great that one of the most energetic and excitable players in the league has a super-calm, un-roaring, un-threatening tiger on his shoulder.

Players without tattoos:

Luke Babbitt

Earl Barron

Nicolas Batum 

Rudy Fernandez  

Armon Johnson   

Patrick Mills  

Brandon Roy

Elliot Williams   



NBA tattoos


2013-14 NBA overall tattoo percentage: 55%
241 players with tattoos, 201 without [details]


2013-13 NBA overall tattoo percentage: 56% [details]
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
Pelicans - 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.