Tattoo percentage: 47% (7 players with tattoos, 8 without)
The Wizards have a lower tattoo percentage than last year.
Players with tattoos:
Among Ariza’s many tattoos are 5 designs dedicated to his younger brother, who died when they were both children. As described by a New Orleans Times-Picayune profile, these tributes are, “displayed on Ariza’s arms, chest and neck and include a sketch of Tajh’s likeness, clasped hands in prayer over Tajh’s name, and on the inside of Ariza’s left forearm, the words ‘Blood is thicker than water. I am my brother’s keeper. Rest in peace, Tajh. I miss you.’”
Among Barbosa’s few tattoos is the text “Love, sacrifice, and union” on the back of his neck.
A good percentage of Beal’s tattoos are dedicated to his family. As described by a recent Washington Post profile, his right arm features “four descending stars, with the letters B-E-A-L inside, and names of his four siblings — Brandon, Bruce, Byron and Bryon — to the right of the stars. The names of his parents, Bobby and Besta, arch above them all.” The article also mentions that his mother accompanied Beal to his first tattoo session, and that he was fifteen years old at the time.
A Washington Post profile printed at the beginning of the 2010-11 season praised Booker for his tenacity, and described a tattoo that represents the distillation of his attitude: “Booker wears his motto tattooed across his chest. It reads, ‘I am free of all prejudice/I hate all opponents equally.’
In the summer of 2011, Martin had the words “Beware of the Grind” tattooed on his left arm.
Normally hidden by his jersey, Seraphin has an elaborate tattoo of an angel on his back.
Webster was raised by his great-aunt Beulah Walker, a relationship explored in a 2006 Washington Post article. The piece describes Webster’s first two tattoos, and his process of asking his great-aunt for permission:
Shortly after he was drafted, Webster convinced Walker to let him get a tattoo of her eyes on his left shoulder and of Jesus on his right. “He said, ‘With you on my left side and Jesus watching me on my right side, I’m going to make it.’ So I said ‘Yes.’ Cause I’m a very religious woman,” said Walker, who added that she hates tattoos.
Players without tattoos:
Tattoo percentage: 50% (7 players with tattoos, 7 without)
Players with tattoos:
Frank of Hawks Nest Tattoo, Maryland, posted a photo on his myspace page of a tattoo session with Blatche. The caption reads “my first tattoo, tattooing andray blatche of the washington wizards” which, if taken at face value, is hilarious. I think he just means it’s the first tattoo he’s done for Blatche or maybe for an NBA player or something, but instead it seems like it’s the first tattoo he’s ever given. Which falls into the identity the Wizards have unfortunately developed this year. Guys like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire go to professional tattoo artists with long resumes of working with famous people and especially basketball players. But Blatche? No big deal, he gives a rookie artist his first shot.
Last year the Washington Post reported on Booker’s new forearm tattoo, one of those designs that creates the illusion that his skin has been peeled away, revealing machinery beneath.
Below a design of two hands holding the earth, Evans has tattooed some inspirational words which he described in a video interview: “It says ‘proba te dignum’ which is Latin for prove yourself worthy.”
Before the start of his first pro season, Lewis got a tattoo on his right arm of a man clutching a basketball with his mother’s name—Juanita—marked on the ball itself. A 1998 profile has the 19 year old Lewis describing the significance of the design: “‘This is all I have right now,’ Lewis says, pointing to his arm, ‘my mother and basketball.’”
Roger Mason Jr.
In 2007, Mason covered his left arm in a meticulous, richly-symbolic tribute to his father. “There’s references from five different centuries and three or four different genres of art,” his tattoo artist, Grant Cobb explained to the Washington Post. “It was something that kind of needed some work, but it means a lot to him, it was real personal….It was really cool to be able to do something like that for him.” Or, in the words of Mason’s then-teammate, DeShawn Stevenson, “that’s blazin’.” Mason himself feels indifferent to the praise: “”Everybody loves it who sees it, but the meaning is what’s important. That’s why I got it.” Bonus twitter post: “Tattoo’s just wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t hurt like heck!”
No longer on roster:
Hamady N’Diaye - has tattoos on his chest
Tattoo percentage: 64% (9 players with tattoos, 5 without)
Denver has a reputation for being the most tattooed team in the league, and up until their massive mid-season trade, they did. The February shake-up that sent Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Anthony Carter, Renaldo Balkman, and Shelden Williams to New York and brought Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Ray Felton, Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos to Denver traded five tattooed players for two. Before the trade, the Nuggets had 12 players with tattoos and two without, barely edging out the Lakers and Knicks for most tattoos. After the trade, Denver doesn’t even stand in the top five (there are six teams with more tattooed players).
Regardless of numbers, it’s interesting to consider the impression of the Nuggets as most tattooed, which may go hand-in-hand with their other reputation, the one that earned them the nickname the Denver Thuggets. Obviously there’s a tone set by Kenyon Martin’s trash talk and J.R. Smith’s all-highlights no-rudiments bravado. But thinking about the Nuggets’ tattoos you also have to consider Al Harrington’s unpredictability and Chris Andersen’s sideshow ridiculousness. It’s nice to think that tattoos may exit the endless conversation lamenting the lack of fundamentals, the prevalence of dunking, the lost art of passing and just become an occasionally-exciting side note to the game. Bill Simmons seems to think so: “Because of their phenomenal collection of tattoos, no team has ever been more fascinating to watch in HD — which makes it doubly funny that they play in Denver, the one city in which people would absolutely get stoned and watch a basketball game just to marvel at tattoos in HD for 150 minutes. I’m telling you, there is MAJOR karma going on here.”
Players with tattoos:
The Birdman’s transition from anonymous crewcut dude to mohawked warrior is well documented, and he’s created enough of an identity through his tattoos that people who couldn’t care less about basketball know all about this second squad forward.
I have a real soft spot for Chandler stemming from his heart and his bravery during the Isiah Thomas dark years for the Knicks. He always had some kind of surprise for the crowd, even if sometimes it was just a new angle on one of his tattoos. Apparently other Knicks fans agreed, and when Chandler had a blog on the Knicks site, questions about his tattoos vastly outnumbered any others, and he dedicated an entire blog entry to discussing them. One of the weirder ones in the list, even though his nonchalance makes it sound pretty casual, is his eyeball tattoo: “On my hand I have a picture of an eye with the words ‘All is Well’ underneath. It’s supposed to be an angels eye that watches over me, protects me and lets me know that all is well.” That’s a lot to ask of a tattoo. Chandler deserves it.
Also notable: the full-back portrait of X-Men villain Juggernaut.
Has tattoos on both shoulders, including a writhing dragon on his right side.
At the beginning of 2009, Forbes was an undrafted UMass product with a handful of tattoos on his arms. By the end of 2010, he had notched his first start in an NBA game, and had his previously isolated designs woven together into two full sleeves, heavy on the stars.
Well hidden by his jersey, Gallinari has a massive Armani logo tattooed on his ribs, borne of a connection deeper than his Italian nationality: “Armani Jeans is one of my sponsors—this tattoo is the Armani Jeans Milano team’s logo. When I go in a store, I take all the clothes I want. Mr. Armani and I are close. He came to town for Christmas, and we went to dinner with my parents.”
Among Harrington’s many tattoos is a great snarling wolf over his heart with the words “Killer Instinct.” Bonus humor points: the “veni vidi vici” tattoo on his collar is often misread as saying something about weed.
After joining the Nuggets, Lawson got a full sleeve tattooed on his left arm.
Few NBA tattoos have gotten as much attention as Martin’s neck work, which began as the lips of his then-girlfriend Trina and since their breakup has been covered by a crown.
There’s been some debate about who has more tattoos, Smith or Andersen, but Gary Forbes says it’s Smith for sure. Since Smith is one of the most tattooed players in the league, it follows that he’s had his designs well documented. I think 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.
Players without tattoos:
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.