New York Knicks, 2013-14

Tattoo percentage: 60% (9 with, 6 without)

The Knicks had a slight decrease in tattoo percentage from last year.

Players with tattoos:

Carmelo Anthony
In December of 2013, Anthony had a portrait of Muhammad Ali tattooed on his back.

Shannon Brown
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.”

Tyson Chandler
On Chandler’s right arm is a copy of one of Allen Iverson’s tattoos—a cross framed by the text “Only the Strong Survive.” Recently, he’s edited the tattoo by crossing out the text with a single line, which leaves the text readable, but clearly negated. In February of 2014, Chandler explained on the Mike Woodson Show the reason for this change:

When I got this tattoo I was younger, and the state of mind I was in was, you know, ‘Only the Strong Survive,’ to make it out of these elements you have to be strong and tough. When I became a little more experienced I realized that that’s not the case… I want people to see that I’ve been scarred, I’ve been scraped up, I’ve made mistakes. My thought process was one way earlier in my life and it’s a different way now. And I want people to see the growth. So instead of completely crossing it out, I want people to see those words but know I’m in a different place now.

Kenyon Martin
The Sports Illustrated Vault twitter account recently dug out an old photo of Martin in a Nets jersey revealing his usually-hidden “Bad Ass Yellow Boy” tattoo.

Lamar Odom
When it comes to tattoos, Odom keeps it simple: “My tattoos are just reminders of people who are close to me.”

Iman Shumpert
According to a NY Post profile, Shumpert has “about 15” tattoos.

J.R. Smith
The New York Times ran an exhaustive discussion of Smith’s tattoos in December of 2012, which featured his surprising confession: “I actually hated tattoos. I told myself I would never get like this.”

Amar’e Stoudemire
Stoudemire runs some of the most complicated and immediately recognizable tattoos in the league, designs that have earned him honors from Inked Magazine and saw him participate in PETA’s “Ink Not Mink" campaign.

Jeremy Tyler
Tyler dropped out of high school to play professional basketball in Israel at the age of 17. During his season with the Maccabi Haifa Heat, Howard Schneider profiled Tyler for the Washington Post, opening the article with a description of the many tattoos Tyler had collected while abroad:

Jeremy Tyler displays his life in tattoos. The “S” and “D” on the 18-year-old’s hands are his roots in San Diego, where he sacrificed a high school diploma for professional basketball. The dreamy Virgo design draping down the left shoulder of his 6-foot-11, 260-pound body, encompassing the names of relatives and a basketball, are his aspiration to support his family through his craft. There is a spot for his girlfriend’s name, the initials of a recently deceased friend, and angel wings on his back.

Players without tattoos:

Cole Aldrich
Andrea Bargnani
Raymond Felton
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Toure Murry
Pablo Prigioni

The Stories behind Knicks and Nets players’ tattoos

Last week, the New York Post ran a story running through the tattoos of both New York teams. There are some nice details of designs on Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, and CJ Watson. There’s also a telling quote from Randy Harris of Tattoos by Randy who reminds us that players will be held accountable for their tattoos so everyone puts a lot of thought into what they’re getting. The best part is a quote from Kenyon Martin about the tattoo reading “Bad Ass Yellow Boy” on his torso: “Down South, they call light-skinned people yellow. When I got to college, there was a song out by some guys from New Orleans called UNLV. They had made the song, and that was my theme song.” 

New York Knicks, 2012-13

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


The Knicks tattoo percentage remained even with last year.

Players with tattoos:

Carmelo Anthony
Anthony caused a bit of controversy during the 2012 American League Division Series by rooting for the Orioles instead of the Yankees. When challenged by the New York Post about this allegiance, Anthony pointed to a tattoo of the Orioles logo on his arm and explained that he’d been a fan of the team since he was a child.

Marcus Camby
A long profile of Camby appeared on ESPN Boston earlier this year in honor of UMass retiring his jersey. The article mentions that Camby got his first tattoo—“a ball, a hoop, and ‘Mr. Camby’ on his left triceps”—following his sophomore season at UMass.

Tyson Chandler
Chandler appeared naked on the cover of the 2012 “Body” issue of ESPN the Magazine. The photo revealed that Chandler has a section of the bible verse Joshua 1:9 tattooed on the right side of his ribcage: “Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Jason Kidd
Kidd’s rarely seen panther tattoo speaks to his longtime love of big cats: “I got this tattoo so long ago. All the way back to about the time I was drafted by the Mavericks. I got it done at a shop in the Bay Area (San Francisco). I just like tigers, panthers, cats in general. I have always wanted to own a panther.”

Kenyon Martin
The Sports Illustrated Vault twitter account recently dug out an old photo of Martin in a Nets jersey revealing his usually-hidden “Bad Ass Yellow Boy” tattoo.

Quentin Richardson
A 2010 report by the Orlando Sentinel talks through Richardson’s many designs, and includes his father’s take on his tattoos: “Why you want to write all over yourself? If you want to write, go write a book.”

Iman Shumpert
In January of 2013, Shumpert revealed that he has a tattoo of cartoon character Johnny Bravo on his left arm, as detailed by Ball Don’t Lie.

J.R. Smith
The New York Times ran an exhaustive discussion of Smith’s tattoos in December of 2012, which featured his surprising confession: “I actually hated tattoos. I told myself I would never get like this.”

Amar’e Stoudemire
In February of 2012, Stoudemire’s older brother Hazell passed away. When Stoudemire came back from the funeral, he had a teardrop tattoo beneath his right eye. A clip from the forthcoming Stoudemire documentary “In the Moment” shows the player discussing his brother and the tattoo: “The reason I got the teardrop tattoo is because I’m forever crying inside.”

James White
White has tattoos on both arms.

Players without tattoos:

Earl Barron
Chris Copeland
Raymond Felton
Steve Novak
Pablo Prigioni

No longer on roster:
Kurt Thomas: no
Rasheed Wallace: yes

On tattoo removal

Nice Knicks-themed article in AM New York today about tattoo removal in the NBA. They talk to Tyson Chandler and Mike Bibby, both of whom are undergoing tattoo removal treatment—you can see the current state of Chandler’s first tattoo above. The article also quotes Bill Walker and (former Knick) Larry Hughes, both of whom insist they would never have a tattoo removed. The highlight is when Tyson Chandler backpedals from his claim that he “definitely see[s] guys getting ink removed” by explaining, in truth, “You don’t know if it’s a bad tattoo or if they’re getting it removed.”

New York Knicks 2011-12

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

Last year the Knicks tied with the Lakers for the team with the most tattooed players. There isn’t anything really to be read into the numbers, or the decline—both rookies have tattoos, and their key free agency pickup (Tyson Chandler) has some of the most distinctive designs in the league. A lot of good stories in this collection of tattoos…

Players with tattoos:

Carmelo Anthony
Anthony’s tattoos pretty much speak for themselves—flaming basketballs, West Baltimore, the Puerto Rican flag—so he doesn’t speak to them that often. When he does, it’s pretty funny, as in this interview with Complex:

Complex: Who’s your tattoo artist?
Carmelo: I go to a guy out of Atlanta. I don’t like to get stuck by too many people’s needles. One guy. I did most of them by myself, though.

Complex: Most of the tattoos? You serious?
Carmelo: No. [Laughs]

Mike Bibby
Bibby’s website features a detailed rundown of all of his tattoos.

Tyson Chandler
One of the storylines of the Mavericks’ 2011 championship was Chandler’s maturation. In the offseason, this development manifested itself in his tattoos. He’s in the process of having his first tattoo—a flaming basketball with his name under it—removed. His newest work is a portrait of his son, which is not only one of my favorite designs in recent memory, but also furthers this idea of turning away from self-involvement (tattoo of his name) to the world around him (tattoo of family).

There’s also some evidence in his tattoos that he’s more self-possessed and able to stand on his own. Last March I pointed out that he has an almost-identical tattoo to Allen Iverson. These days he’s filled the design out and added a bunch of work around it, making it his own.

Baron Davis
While the design is a mystery, Davis does have a back tattoo that peeks out of the left side of his uni occasionally.

Josh Harrellson
Although it’s mostly hidden by his jersey, Harrellson has a tattoo of a cross in memory of his grandfather. The Lexington Herald-Ledger article that shares that info also mentions that Jorts “visits children’s hospitals and homeless shelters. He regularly goes to the Humane Society to play with the dogs. ‘I don’t think they get enough love and affection up there,’ he said.”

Jared Jeffries
If you haven’t already, please read this. Jeffries has a crowned basketball tattooed on his left arm.

Iman Shumpert
According to a NY Post profile, Shumpert has “about 15” tattoos.

J.R. Smith
Smith is one of the most heavily tattooed players in the league. 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. 

Amar’e Stoudemire
If I didn’t do this blog I would do a blog that charts out all of the NBA references in Brick Squad songs. “You know Flocka shoot first like John Starks” being my favorite. This French Montana song about Amar’e Stoudemire is pretty likable, even if it’s a little direct. Also, I’m skeptical of the edit but I like thinking that STAT still has a kickflip. Anyway, there’s a visit to the tattoo parlor in the video which is why I’ve included it here. If you are interested in a rundown of all of Stoudemire’s tattoos, I recommend The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac.

Bill Walker
During his rookie year, Walker had the number “1023” tattooed on his neck. The significance, as explained to the Providence Journal, was “to remind myself to never forget where I came from.” Walker grew up at 1023 Minton Street, in Huntington, West Virginia.

Players without tattoos:

Toney Douglas
Landry Fields
Jerome Jordan
Jeremy Lin
Steve Novak

No longer on roster:

Renaldo Balkman:Balkman has “HUSTLE” and “HARDER” tattooed on his calves and on his eyelids.

Great new tattoo by Chuey Quintanar for Tyson Chandler. As described by Chandler on twitter, the portrait is of his son. The crown is great, as is the look on the kid’s face. It’s also apparently not finished, and Chandler asked for his followers to peer pressure Quintanar to find time to complete the design.

Great new tattoo by Chuey Quintanar for Tyson Chandler. As described by Chandler on twitter, the portrait is of his son. The crown is great, as is the look on the kid’s face. It’s also apparently not finished, and Chandler asked for his followers to peer pressure Quintanar to find time to complete the design.

Every Team’s Got One: Southwest Division

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, concluding here with the Southwest division. Click HERE to view other divisions.

Dallas Mavericks

Tyson Chandler:

Dominique Jones:

Houston Rockets

Courtney Lee:

Brad Miller:

Memphis Grizzlies

Darrell Arthur:

New Orleans Hornets

Trevor Ariza:

San Antonio Spurs

George Hill:

Richard Jefferson:

Dallas Mavericks 2010-11

Tattoo percentage: 47% (seven players with tattoos, eight without)

Now that the playoffs have begun, the discussion of how and when the Mavs will choke has begun again, with old ghosts haunting from past seasons. I’m not a fan of the team by any means, but I get a shiver of sympathy when I hear people laugh at them. The triumph of the 2007 Warriors isn’t the only source of amusement at Dallas’s expense: Jason Terry, and especially DeShawn Stevenson have tattoos that seem hilarious to observers, particularly Stevenson. I’m pretty sure even people who don’t follow basketball have gaped at the photo above. But when Stevenson and Terry start talking about their tattoos the emotion thickens like cement, choking off the giggles. Which is, I guess, their hope for how the playoffs run.

Players with 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.”

Tyson Chandler

Chandler’s website has a short video where he talks through all of his tattoos, including two different portraits (of his uncle and his daughter), his mother’s name, his wife’s initials, and his first tattoo: “I have a basketball on fire, with my name under it. That was my first tattoo, I was a youngster.”

Dominique Jones

For his rookie year, Jones manifested his love for the league by tattooing the NBA logo on his calf.

Jason Kidd

Kidd’s rarely seen panther tattoo speaks to his longtime love of big cats: “I got this tattoo so long ago. All the way back to about the time I was drafted by the Mavericks. I got it done at a shop in the Bay Area (San Francisco). I just like tigers, panthers, cats in general. I have always wanted to own a panther.”

Shawn Marion

Marion’s Chinese character tattoo on his calf was included in a New York Times article about poorly researched/translated tattoos: “Shawn Marion of the Phoenix Suns was under the impression that his nickname, ‘the Matrix,’ was tattooed on his leg, but Mr. Tang says the inscription translates as something like ‘demon bird moth balls.’”

DeShawn Stevenson

Tattoos play a vital role in Stevenson’s life. The Abraham Lincoln tattoo on his neck has inspired a lot of laughter but his teammates have nothing but respect. In the words of Caron Butler: “That’s crazy to a lot of people, but not to me. I respect him if he wants to do that. It’s a way for him to celebrate what Lincoln did with the slaves.” Stevenson also has a crack tattooed on his forehead, which he explained at a 2009 media day: “‘I don’t crack,’ he said. ‘I feel like people always try to break me, but I don’t crack. So, I put that there.’” Perhaps the most intense Stevenson tattoo isn’t on his body. His father, Darryl Stevenson, who had dreams of become a pro basketball player, was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic when DeShawn Stevenson was an infant. As a result of a series of violent crimes culminating in the murder of his mother, Darryl Stevenson spent most of his son’s life in prison, and died in Corcoran State Prison the year that DeShawn graduated high school. Tattooed on his chest was one word: “DeShawn.”

Jason Terry

Terry has a tattoo of Underdog, which he explained in a 2008 Dime Magazine interview: “I never was seen as one of the best players on the court ’til senior year of high school. Even at Arizona, I was not a starter ’til senior year.”

Players without tattoos:

J.J. Barea  

Rodrique Beaubois 

Corey Brewer

Brian Cardinal  

Brendan Haywood   

Ian Mahinmi   

Dirk Nowitzki 

Peja Stojakovic

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.