Tattoo percentage: 53% (8 players with tattoos, 7 without)
Players with tattoos:
In 2009, Urban Ink magazine published a great interview with Daniels that includes details and explanations of many of his tattoos.
Grantland recently published an excellent profile of Ellis by Jonathan Abrams. He includes a great quote from Ellis that really explains why he’s such a treat to watch: “I always approach the game like I approached it when I was a little boy, it’s just basketball.” The set up for this quote is a description of young Monta watching weekend matinee NBA games and then going outside to mimic what he saw. As Abrams describes it: “It always seemed like the games between the Magic and Bulls, Kings and Lakers, Knicks and Heat came down to the last second. After the games ended, Monta would go outside to mimic the last-second shots on his makeshift court, a garbage can on one end and a milk crate on the other.” Ellis paid tribute to these days on his elaborate back tattoo, which includes an image of a boy beside a milkcrate basket.
A 2007 Akron Beacon-Journal article focuses on Gooden’s then-recent tattoo, his first new work since he was 15 years old. The article reports that the tattoo is Dali-like, featuring a melting clock, set to 11:11 for good luck. At opposite sides of the clock a pair of angels and a devil observe time, completing this fittingly outlandish design for Gooden.
Henson has the words “Truly Blessed” tattooed on his chest.
Jennings is one of the more heavily tattooed players in the league. In 2011, Jennings told the website Global Grind that he was close to finished with tattoos, as he was running out of space.
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.
Via his twitter account, Redick posted a photo of his forearm tattoo, which quotes a Kings of Leon song. At the beginning of the 2012-13 season, he explained to Brooke Thomas of Yardbarker the significance of the quote, which reads: “Single book of matches, gonna burn what’s standing in the way.” As paraphrased by Thomas, “the lyrics mean that he’s given a finite amount of time and resources to do the things he is passionate about. Whatever obstacles and challenges that arise, he has to figure out a way to burn them down.”
Sanders is one of the more heavily tattooed players in the league. When asked about his tattoos, he consistently responds that he sees tattoos as artwork, and that creative expression is the only thing a person can really own.
Players without tattoos:
Luc Mbah a Moute
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
Tattoo percentage: 50% (7 players with tattoos, 7 without)
I like a lot of the pieces on the Kings—the young guys like Cousins and Thompson, Francisco Garcia’s gravity, Thornton’s dominance since being traded from the Hornets—and I would love it if Geoff Petrie would keep the squad together and try and pick up the momentum they had for the last month of the season. I have a feeling it’s not going to happen. I think the difference between Daniels’ “Only the strong survive” and Jackson’s “Suicide is not an option” pretty much spells out the almost-but-actually-not-at-all chemistry the team has.
Players with tattoos:
On Cousins’ left arm is a spider sitting in a web that stretches from his shoulder to his elbow, marked with the text: “stuck in the game.” On his right arm is a basketball wearing a crown with a banner that reads “king of the game.” Game!
Daniels is without question one of the most tattooed players in the league, and bearer of one of the most stressful tattoos in the world: beneath the text “only the strong survive,” a man commits suicide with a rifle. When asked about the tattoo, Daniels explained, ““If you’re not strong, you’re willing to do anything to find a way out.”
Until the arrival of Daniels, Green was the most heavily tattooed player on the Kings. While more recent photos reveal the tattoo on his right shoulder to be a ball passing through a hoop, surrounded by flames, tell me it didn’t look like Cousin It wearing a top hat back in his rookie year.
Jackson just got on twitter in March of 2011. Less than 60 tweets in, he posted a heartbreaker on March 25, the anniversary of his mother’s suicide. While Jackson has quite a few tattoos, including a tribute to his deceased grandmother on his left shoulder, it’s the one for his mother—the text “suicide is not an option” on his wrist—that he leans on the most: “If I’m out here working out or if I’m sitting in a room or if I’m working out in the weight room, I always just take a glance at my wrist and be like, ‘Suicide is not an option.’”
The internet is seriously fronting on Jeter and the tattoo that occasionally peeks out of the left side of his jersey. I can’t find a photo anywhere.
Taylor has both arms pretty much covered.
Among Thornton’s many tattoos is a line of text along his collar that reads: “Protected by God I fear no man.”
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.