Denver Nuggets, 2013-14

Tattoo percentage: 80% (12 players with tattoos, 3 without)

The Nuggets have a longtime reputation as the most tattooed team in the league, and this year they’ve tied for first and increased their percentage from last season.

Players with tattoos:

Darrell Arthur
Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs interviewed Arthur a few months into his first season with the team, and asked if hanging out with Nate Robinson and Wilson Chandler had inspired him to add any new tattoos. His response: 

No no no, I plan on getting some, but I got to figure out what I want. My grandfather had passed a couple years ago so I might get something for him, for sure. But I don’t like to get random tattoos, I like to get meaningful stuff.

Aaron Brooks
Brooks is one of a small group of heavily tattooed NBA players raised in Seattle. Tattooed on his left shoulder is the city’s area code, 206, overlaid on an outline of the space needle.

Wilson Chandler
In another great report by Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs, Chandler was asked to choose five of his tattoos and tell a bit about each one. One of his choices is a portrait of Eazy-E alongside the N.W.A. logo on his shoulder:

I grew up with my Grandma and my uncles and aunts are like my brothers and sisters. One of my uncles used to listen to N.W.A all the time. I used to look up to him, he was like my hero and I used to always go in his room and listen to Eazy-E and N.W.A. I used to wear the shades, the hats, and the cut off gloves [like Eazy-E]. I always liked Eazy-E, he was my favorite [member of] N.W.A. Growing up in Michigan a lot of people used to listen to West Coast music. When I was a kid it was like N.W.A and Scarface.

Evan Fournier
Paris-born Fournier has the words “Régularité” and “Intensité” tattooed on his right and left wrists, respectively.

Randy Foye
One of the most heartbreaking tattoos in the league (or that I’ve heard of, period), Foye has a tattoo of his mother over his heart. Raised by his two grandmothers after his father died and his mother ran out on the family, Foye marked his 22nd birthday with this tribute to his absent parent. A 2006 interview painted yearning, not forgiveness as the inspiration for the design: “If my mom was here today, she would probably be the most important person in my life. I know how I treat my grandmother and I put my grandmother in her place on a pedestal. I just felt as if I needed something of her attached to me, so I just put her over my heart.”

Danilo Gallinari
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.”

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

Ty Lawson
Just before the start of the 2013-14 season, Lawson posted a photo of himself getting a new tattoo on Instagram. 

JaVale McGee
In May of 2010, McGee posted photos on his twitter account of his new tattoo—a barcode between his shoulder blades.

Quincy Miller
On Twitter, Miller listed the names of his mother, sisters, and grandmother among his tattoos. “Those the ladies of my life,” he explains, “so they with me, always!”

Anthony Randolph
Tattoos peek out of both sides of Randolph’s uniform.

Nate Robinson
For an April 2014 episode of Robinson’s youtube show, State of Nate, he partnered with Dime Magazine to discuss tattoos. Among the designs seen in the episode is a tattoo of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Robinson’s ribcage, which he explains represents his brothers.

Players without tattoos:

Kenneth Faried
Timofey Mozgov
Jan Vesely



Utah Jazz, 2012-13

Tattoo percentage: 67% (10 players with tattoos, 5 without)

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The Jazz increased their percentage of tattooed players slightly from last year.

Players with tattoos:

DeMarre Carroll
When Carroll was 5 years old, his older brother DeLonté died from a brain tumor. While Carroll was a senior at Missouri, a St. Louis Post Dispatch article posed him as a “big brother” for his teammates, explaining he learned the importance of this role from DeLonté, who he’d since commemorated in a R.I.P./portrait tattoo on his arm.

Derrick Favors
Favors’s Jesus with possession tattoo was featured in Dime Magazine’s best new ink column in 2010.

Randy Foye
One of the most heartbreaking tattoos in the league (or that I’ve heard of, period), Foye has a tattoo of his mother over his heart. Raised by his two grandmothers after his father died and his mother ran out on the family, Foye marked his 22nd birthday with this tribute to his absent parent. A 2006 interview painted yearning, not forgiveness as the inspiration for the design: “If my mom was here today, she would probably be the most important person in my life. I know how I treat my grandmother and I put my grandmother in her place on a pedestal. I just felt as if I needed something of her attached to me, so I just put her over my heart.”

Jerel McNeal
McNeal has tattoos on both arms.

Paul Millsap
Millsap has a pair of praying hands tattooed on his left arm.

Kevin Murphy
Murphy has a very unusual tattoo on his hands which spells out the phrase “Son of God.”

Jamaal Tinsley
Tinsley has a tattoo on his right forearm.

Earl Watson
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.”

Mo Williams
Williams is one of the most tattooed players on the Jazz. An Akron Beacon article from March 2012 describes one of his tattoos normally hidden by his jersey:

Among his many tattoos, Clippers guard Mo Williams has an NBA tattoo on his back that has nothing to do with basketball, but instead reads “Never Broke Again.”

Marvin Williams
Also one of the most tattooed players on the Jazz, Williams has been a regular at Tattoos by Randy, due to the proximity of the shop to the Atlanta airport (Williams played on the Hawks for seven seasons). Now that he’s in Utah, it seems like he’s slowing down with tattoos. According to a ESPN.com article, not only did Williams not add any tattoos this summer, “I’m actually in the process of getting one removed from my hand.”

Players without tattoos:

Alec Burks
Jeremy Evans
Gordon Hayward
Al Jefferson
Enes Kanter



Another Randy Foye tearjerker

Saturday’s Los Angeles Times featured a profile of Randy Foye by T.J. Simers that discusses Foye’s background. Among the heavy facts listed in the article:

-Foye was three years old when his father died in a motorcycle accident

-Foye was five years old when his mother vanished

-Foye’s brother survived being shot 11 times

As mentioned before, Foye marked his 22nd birthday with a tattoo of his mother. Simers gets into more detail about that tattoo, and the one he’s added since that time:

He had her face tattooed across his chest. It was his first tattoo, and “no matter how much pain there was, and there’s a lot with a face to tattoo, I wanted her to always be with me,” he says.

He later added a tattoo of his older daughter.

"She sees it," he says, "and she says, ‘That’s me, right?’ Then she points to my mom’s face and I explain to her that she’s my mommy. She wants to know where she is.

“My wife and I look at each other. Uh-oh, how to explain this? I tell her my mommy is resting with God.”

The article does share some positive news about the work Foye does with kids from his childhood neighborhood in Newark, but it’s a pretty intense read.



Los Angeles Clippers, 2011-12

Tattoo percentage: 87% (13 players with tattoos, 2 without)

Wow. In the past few months (sealing the deal with their last-minute trade today), the Clippers have gone from a team with an average number of tattooed players last year to the team with the most tattooed players by a good margin. Strangely, their two marquee players are their only two players without tattoos.

Players with tattoos:

Chauncey Billups
On Billups’s left shoulder is a tattoo of a crowned figure spinning a basketball on his finger. Surrounding the figure are the words “King of the Hill,” a reference to the Denver neighborhood Billups grew up in. In an IGN Sports interview, Billups described it as his favorite tattoo, and explained the significance: “My neighborhood back home is called Park Hill. It’s a hood thing. All of my tats mean something.”

Eric Bledsoe
Bledsoe’s right arm is almost completely covered in tattoos.

Caron Butler
While on the Wizards, Butler wrote on his blog about tattoos: “Like many other guys in the NBA, I’m big on tattoos too. I may not be a league leader there, though, because I have just four of them. The tat that means the most to me is the one on my left arm. It says “Rest in Peace, Kailo”. That’s my cousin who died in a car accident. She was like a sister to me. I grew up with her and although she’s no longer here, I keep her with me.”

Reggie Evans
Evans has tattoos along both arms, including his mother’s name—Janie—tattooed along his left forearm.

Randy Foye
One of the most heartbreaking tattoos in the league (or that I’ve heard of, period), Foye has a tattoo of his mother over his heart. Raised by his two grandmothers after his father died and his mother ran out on the family, Foye marked his 22nd birthday with this tribute to his absent parent. A 2006 interview painted yearning, not forgiveness as the inspiration for the design: “If my mom was here today, she would probably be the most important person in my life. I know how I treat my grandmother and I put my grandmother in her place on a pedestal. I just felt as if I needed something of her attached to me, so I just put her over my heart.” Think about that next time you boo him.

Ryan Gomes
Gomes has a massive tattoo of praying hands on his ribcage.

DeAndre Jordan
Jordan has a lot of text tattoos: the serenity prayer; Matthew 5:4-5; G.W.O.M. (which stands for God Watch Over Me); Philippians 4:13; “Don’t take wooden nickels”; and a text he wrote himself on his bicep. According to a Dime Magazine profile, he can’t help it: “I mean I see a lot of writing and things like that, that I can relate to and I’m not like, ‘Oh, I should get it tattooed on me,’ but I just kind of like them so much that I want to get it.”

Travis Leslie
Leslie is the only NBA player I can think of with no upper body tattoos and tattoos on his calves.

Kenyon Martin
In a recent L.A. Times article, Martin discussed the meaning behind one of his tattoos:

"I have another tattoo here that reads: ‘God’s Plan, My will.’ That’s why I work so hard and care so much. Basketball is what got me out of the projects. It got my momma the house she never had, the car she never had.

"Nobody is going to get the best of me. You might score more points than me, but you’re going to know you were in a dogfight."

Bobby Simmons
Simmons has a tribute to his other brother, Tizoma, who died when Bobby was a junior in high school, tattooed on his right arm. When asked about the tattoo by The Journal Times, Simmons explained, “I think of him all the time. That’s why I had this (tattoo) done. That was the purpose for me getting this, so that he would never be forgotten.”

Trey Thompkins
Thompkins has tattoos on both arms.

Mo Williams
Williams has a tattoo of the Mr. Peanut logo in reference to his childhood nickname, Peanut.

Nick Young
Young prepared for the 2010-11 season by having the word “FAITH” tattooed across his chest, a move he described in an interview: “‘It feels like a new birth. I’m just ready to take on any challenge. I’m trying to get tattoos and coming back totally new — a new Nick,’ Young said, flashing a grin, then flexing to show he has hit the weight room this summer to add another seven pounds of muscle. ‘I can stomach the big dogs this year.’”

Players without tattoos:

Blake Griffin
Chris Paul



Los Angeles Clippers, 2010-11

Tattoo percentage: 57% (8 players with tattoos, 6 without)

I watched a lot of games on my phone this season, which is kind of a weird unsatisfying thing to do. Sometimes the signal wasn’t so strong and the players would pixellate, which would make it feel like I was playing NBA Jam on Game Gear. Most times there wasn’t enough detail to tell the players apart, unless I knew the team’s spacing really well, and could recognize, for example, that Dorell Wright was the only one on the Warriors who would lurk in the corner like that. Not so with the Clippers. From Aminu’s rangy, boneless arms to Jordan crashing under the basket to Griffin’s superhumanity, the Clippers were a bunch of distinctive dudes this year, even on a two by four inch screen. Their tattoo game was not as distinctive, but does reveal some interesting things about their squad.



Players with tattoos:

Al-Farouq Aminu
Aminu didn’t make as much noise as people expected this year, missing a lot of easy shots and forcing bad plays. Still, he was a rebounding monster, and when he followed one up with a full-court rush, it was pretty much magic. So how facile that a guy who has only shown flashes of what he really is only has tattoos on the inside of his biceps, showing only glimpses of the designs. Psyched to see what’s next for him.

Eric Bledsoe
Bledsoe has a tattoo on his right arm that covered his bicep last summer but had extended as far as his wrist by the all-star break.

Randy Foye
One of the most heartbreaking tattoos in the league (or that I’ve heard of, period), Foye has a tattoo of his mother over his heart. Raised by his two grandmothers after his father died and his mother ran out on the family, Foye marked his 22nd birthday with this tribute to his absent parent. A 2006 interview painted yearning, not forgiveness as the inspiration for the design: “If my mom was here today, she would probably be the most important person in my life. I know how I treat my grandmother and I put my grandmother in her place on a pedestal. I just felt as if I needed something of her attached to me, so I just put her over my heart.”

Ryan Gomes 
Has a tattoo on his chest that occasionally peeks out of his jersey.

DeAndre Jordan 
Jordan covers a lot of ground in his tattoos, from tributes to family members, to hometown pride, to spirituality, to a noble lion. A recent DIME Magazine profile goes through all of his tattoos with commentary. A standout is his left forearm, which shows a half-skull/half-earth sphere surrounded by text. Jordan described the design and elaborated on its meaning: “It says, ‘Don’t gain the world and lose your soul.’ It’s a Bob Marley quote. It’s a circle, but it’s half a skull and half the Earth. I just didn’t want to get caught up in materialistic things and forget who I am and where I come from.”

Jamario Moon 
At the end of the 2009-2010 season, Moon responded to fan questions via the Cleveland Cavaliers website. The first asked him what his favorite tattoo was, and he responded that it was the one on his right arm: “My favorite tattoo is my right arm tattoo. It’s a cross with a basketball on top with a dog in the middle. It’s the three things I love the most. I love God, I love basketball and I also love dogs.”

Willie Warren
 
Warren has two different joker/basketball tattoos. Although they’re thematically close to many NBA tattoos, in a 2009 pre-draft profile, Warren described the meaning embedded in the two designs: “On my right arm, I have a joker with a basketball in the background. The one on my left arm is a joker with a basketball jersey on, No. 32. Me and my mom wore No. 32 in high school, so that was something I got for me and my mom. Of course, I won a state championship and she didn’t.”

Mo Williams  

Clearly
one of the most tattooed players on the team, Williams and six of his high school friends had “La Familia” tattooed on their legs, representing a deep bond that he explained to Cleveland’s Plain Dealer: “It signifies us as a unit forever. No matter what direction we go in life, we know we’re ‘La Familia.’ We’re together, no matter what happens. That’ll be with me forever.”

Players without tattoos:

Brian Cook  

Ike Diogu 

Eric Gordon 

Blake Griffin

Chris Kaman   

Craig Smith  



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.