DeShawn Stevenson re-posted the above photo to his Instagram account earlier this week. In the photo, Stevenson is receiving a new tattoo from Spooks Joya, of Fallen Sparrow Tattoo Co. in Kissimmee, Florida. Fallen Sparrow was co-founded by Spooks Joya and Legion in 2009 as a tribute to Rob G, who passed away earlier that same year. Rob G was one of the go-to artists for NBA players, and during his career he worked on Shaquille O’Neal, Dorell Wright, Tracy McGrady, and DeShawn Stevenson. Both Spooks and Legion worked at Rob G’s Kissimmee shop, Tiger Tattoos. RIP Rob G.
When I interviewed Dorell Wright a few months ago, I asked him if there was a specific artist he worked with regularly. He told me about his close relationship with Rob G, explaining that the Orlando-based artist “did a lot of my work in a year and a half span, unfortunately he’s no longer around.”
The Phoenix New Times ran an obituary for Rob G after his death in 2009 that discussed his tattoo work for Shaquille O’Neal, Ice Cube, and DMX. It’s worth clicking through for the photo of Rob G and Shaq. R.I.P. Rob G
About one-sixth of NBA players have a tattoo of a basketball. It makes sense, lots of people commemorate their passions via tattoos: cyclists, chefs, shredders, LL Cool J. Still, what’s amazing is that every team has at least one player with a basketball tattoo, even the Hornets, who only have two tattooed players. Basketball tattoos range from iconic (Jordan jumpman; NBA logo), to narcissistic (Carlos Boozer’s self portrait), to symbolic (basketball wearing a crown, basketball meshed with a cross), to weird (Rip Hamilton’s gravestone). Going division by division, Every Team’s Got One will sort out the the highlights across the league, starting here with the Atlantic division.
New Jersey Nets
New York Knicks
Tattoo percentage:66% (10 players with tattoos/5 without)
Despite some trade-deadline maneuvers that sent away heavily tattooed Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson for un-tattooed Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, the Celtics remain above the league average for tattooed players.
Players with tattoos:
Arroyo’s sole tattoo is his daughter’s name on his left forearm.
In the beginning of 2010 Davis announced that he would abandon his “Big Baby” nickname, however he continues to keep his mother close to his heart with her portrait and the text "mama’s boy" tattooed on his chest.
Among KG’s few tattoos is the following text on his forearm: “Only God can Judge me. Rest in Peace MS2.” The text is a tribute combining the initials and jersey number of his Timberwolves teammate Malik Sealy who was killed by a drunk driver in 2000. Former teammate (and current Laker) Joe Smith has the same tribute on his arm.
Heavily tattooed. His "Year of the Resurrection" text, added in 1999 on his right shoulder, is a nice commemoration of Christian mythos and Y2K anxiety.
In typical Shaq humor, O’Neal claimed in a 2009 article, “I have all these tattoos because my parents let me get them. I have to fax the designs to them beforehand.”
One of the rare tattooed Euro players in the league, Pavlovic has text on his forearm and a tiger on his ankle.
In 2010 he got his nickname, “The Truth” tattooed on his forearm, garnished with a couple of clever references to the game: a clover for the Celtics and a pair of dice reading 3 and 4 (his jersey number is 34).
Although it can’t be seen on the court, Rondo has the Rolls Royce logo inked on his back, a gentle reference to his initials.
Has a few tattoos, including a cobweb on his elbow, representing his struggle.
Among his many tattoos (including a Christian religious narrative that starts on his neck and runs down his chest) is script along his ribs reads: “For those I love I sacrifice.” In an interview he elaborated, “I definitely sacrificed getting them on these ribs, I’ll tell you that.”
Players without tattoos:
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.