Tattoo percentage: 67% (10 players with tattoos, 5 without)
In the biggest single-year jump in the past three years, the Suns nearly doubled their tattoo percentage from last year.
Players with tattoos:
Among Beasley’s many tattoos is the word “H.O.O.D.” on his chest, an acronym for “Holding Our Own Destinies.”
In 2009, during Brown’s first season with the Lakers, Meghan Brennan asked the player about his tattoos for a Mouthpiecesports interview. Brown quickly ran down the tatooos on his right arm and hand, which include the word “Believe,” “Proverbs 3: 5-6” (although not the proverb text itself); his initials “SB,” and his mother’s name, “Sandra.”
A 2013 profile in the Oregonian discusses the tattoo on Frye’s right forearm. It’s a pretty complicated narrative:
“His idyllic scene is etched on the inside of his right forearm, where his favorite tattoo depicts a mountain with several steps leading up to a rising sun. It is a place of esteem, for to reach the top, where the view is far-reaching and the sun rays stretch like exclamation points, one must overcome the steps of Doubt, Yourself, Fear, Hate, Lies and Envy, before reaching Happiness.”
While still at Iowa State, Garrett was interviewed about his tattoos by the Des Moines Register. He discusses all of his tattoos, including his parents’ names, the phrase “Carpe Diem,” and his first tattoo, a gift-wrapped basketball with the text “God’s Gift.”
During his second season in the NBA, Gortat made it to the finals as a backup center for the Magic. On the magnified stage of the championship round, it came to the attention of his sponsor, Reebok, that Gortat had Nike’s Michael Jordan Jumpman logo tattooed on his ankle. They requested that he wear long socks to cover the rival logo, or efface it with makeup. Gortat refused: “I’ve heard from other people that even other players, if they don’t know my name, they know I’m the big white guy with the Jordan tattoo. I like that. Reebok will have to get used to that.” Gortat is no longer sponsored by Reebok.
The NBA’s first Iranian player has a stylized dragon tattooed on his left shoulder.
Morris and his twin brother, Markieff Morris, 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.”
O’Neal’s right shoulder features a muscular figure surrounded by the text “Year of the Resurrection.” Asked about the tattoo in 2011, O’Neal couldn’t remember when or where he got it, stressing instead that the tattoo isn’t fixed to one year, but constantly refreshes: “It better be this year… I look at it like every year has been a resurrection year — being challenged, being knocked down and getting back up – but I’ve had a lot of trials and tribulations this year.”
Tucker has tattoos on both arms.
Players without tattoos:
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
Until the 2011-12 rosters are finalized, it’s difficult to say what teams increased their tattoo percentages last night. Probably none of them. Overall, there were not many tattooed players in the draft, with only 27% of the first round players having any. Notably, only three of the lottery picks have tattoos—#1 pick Kyrie Irving and the Morris twins, taken at #13 and #14. Over the past five years, at least 6 of the lottery picked players have had tattoos, with as many as 8 in 2006 and 2008. This may be a side effect of the international tone of this draft, or more evidence of young players avoiding tattoos for endorsements, and it probably doesn’t mean anything at all. In the meantime, here’s a look at the first round draft picks with tattoos:
#1: Kyrie Irving: Has several tattoos, including a tribute to his mother over his heart. I think he’s gotten a few more since this photo was taken.
#13 & #14: Markieff and Marcus Morris: A pair of identical twins that have identical tattoos (and a lot of them) is conceptually complete, there’s no room for additional commentary.
#15: Kawhi Leonard: Has a tribute to his father, who was killed in 2008, tattooed on his arm.
#17: Iman Schumpert: Can’t really get any details his work yet.
#20: Donatas Motiejunas: No photo of the tattoo, but this quote is even better:
Motiejunas drew the shirt back to reveal the tattoo that took three painful visits over a year to complete. The eagle, in flight, covered most of his left chest. It is clenching a basketball and fire streams off the back of the ball. It’s an actual statement of his appreciation of the bird and potential symbolism of his NBA future.
“I read a lot of books about eagles,” he said. “It sort of inspires me. I really like the attitudes of eagles. It’s really nice.”
“They never give up. When they grab, for example, a fish or something else, they never let it go. It doesn’t matter. In a book, they write they find a skeleton of (an) eagle and there is no fish. It means that the fish beat him and killed him, but he didn’t let go.”
#25: Marshon Brooks: Yes to a winged basketball
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.