Portland Trail Blazers, 2012-13

Tattoo percentage: 73% (11 players with tattoos, 4 without)

The Trail Blazers showed one of the largest leaps in tattoo percentage this year, with four more tattooed players than last year.

Players with tattoos:

LaMarcus Aldridge
Every one of Aldridge’s tattoos carries religious significance: praying hands, crosses, the text “KEEP GOD FIRST.” When asked about his collection, Aldridge simply replied, “Because I’m a man of strong faith. Strong beliefs.”

Will Barton
The website High School Hopefuls interviewed Barton in his hometown of Baltimore. In the video, he discusses his tattoos, including the text “Where There’s a Will There’s a Way” on his back. As he explains: “My favorite tattoo right there. It’s a clever joint, you know, it’s biblical, it’s got my name in it… I live by that, in the biblical sense, and I live by it, in my name sense. You got me, you’re going to get it done!”

Joel Freeland
Freeland has a tattoo on his right arm.

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

Jared Jeffries
Jeffries has a crowned basketball tattooed on his left arm.

Meyers Leonard
Blazers blogger Sarah Hecht shared a great anecdote from the 2012 media day about Leonard’s “Forever Blessed” tattoo:

When the cameraman asked him about the meaning behind the word “Forever” tattooed on his inner arm he leaned back a bit more and showed the word “Blessed” on his right arm. He chuckled a bit then responded, “It means blessed forever.”

Damian Lillard
Lillard has Psalm 37 tattooed on his left arm. He described the personal significance of the text to Sam Amick in a 2012 Sports Illustrated profile: “It’s about not letting anything sway you from what you believe; keep your faith strong.”

Wes Matthews
The recent article in the Oregonian, "Trail Blazers tattoos reveal players’ values" includes an interesting quote from Matthews about his most recent tattoos, the text “Much is earned through God’s blessing” on his right forearm and “Life comes and goes but legacies remain” on his left bicep: “Until I got these, if I wore a shirt, you would never know I had one. But these, they’re not gaudy and they mean something. They’re not an expression of ignorance.” 

Eric Maynor
Maynor took advantage of the lockout in 2011 to add a lot of tattoos to his story. When asked by Candace Buckner of the Columbian for the reason behind this burst of new work, Maynor responded with one word: “bored.”

Aleksander (Sasha) Pavlovic
Pavlovic has a tattoo on his right arm.

Nolan Smith
Nolan Smith was nine years old when his father, NBA champion Derek Smith passed away at the age of 34 from a previously undetected heart defect. A 2008 profile published by ESPN during Nolan’s freshman year at Duke described the tattoo tribute the son has for his father:

Years later, when Nolan was 16, he asked Monica if he could get a tattoo. She first refused, then changed her mind when he said he wanted one of his father.

“I said, ‘You can get that, but you have to wear it with honor and integrity,’ ” Monica said. “That’s the only tattoo he’ll ever have.”

The green ink on Nolan Smith’s right biceps reads “Forever watching”. Below that is 4RIP3, and a sketch of his father’s face, followed with “Derek Smith 1961-1996”.

“I have this tattoo on my arm,” Nolan said, “and I remember him at all times.”

Players without tattoos:

Luke Babbitt
Nicholas Batum
Victor Claver
Elliot Williams

Boston Celtics 2011-12

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

The Celtics tattoo percentage remained the same as last year.

Players with tattoos:

Brandon Bass
Heavily tattooed on both arms.

Marquis Daniels
In 2009, Urban Ink magazine interviewed Daniels about his tattoos. He talks about the shotgun suicide one, and the one that reads “look through the eyes of a killer” but also talks about the one he got for his grandparents:  

When I was younger, I used to have to read the Bible to my grandmother and grandfather all the time, and that was their favorite scripture. It was like, always remember the scripture. If youre down, and you want to pray or whatever, read the scripture. Thats why I got the tattoo on the side.  Its my favorite verse also.  You know, when times get hard, I feel like, through the pain, after all the efforts I put forward, that verse protects me from anything evil.

I appreciate that he is able to bring evil into that one too.

Keyon Dooling
According to NBA.com, the cross tattoo on Dooling’s shoulder is to remind him that he’s blessed.

Kevin Garnett
Among KG’s tattoos is the text: “Only God can Judge me. Rest in Peace MS2” on his forearm. 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 Joe Smith has the same tribute tattooed on his arm.

E’Twaun Moore
Rookie Moore has a cross tattoo on his left shoulder.

Jermaine O’Neal
O’Neal’s right shoulder features a muscular figure surrounded by the text “Year of the Resurrection.” Asked about the tattoo in 2011, O’Neal couldn’t remember when or where he got it, stressing instead that the tattoo isn’t fixed to one year, but constantly refreshes: “It better be this year… I look at it like every year has been a resurrection year — being challenged, being knocked down and getting back up – but I’ve had a lot of trials and tribulations this year.”

Aleksander Pavlovic
Pavlovic has a bit of text tattooed on his arm and a tiger on his ankle.

Paul Pierce
In September 2000, just before Pierce’s third year as a pro, he was stabbed 11 times at a nightclub in Boston. Several years later, he had a basketball with a dagger through it tattooed on his arm. As described by Pierce to the website Vegas Deluxe, “It represents how close I came to losing my life. Basketball is my gift and my curse. Obviously there are all the good things that come from playing basketball, but you also have to deal with all the negative things that come with being a basketball player.”

Mickael Pietrus
Pietrus has a tribal-inspired armband circling his right bicep.

Rajon Rondo
Rondo has the double-R Rolls Royce logo tattooed on his back, which also references his initials.

Players without tattoos:

Ray Allen
Avery Bradley
Ryan Hollins
JaJuan Johnson
Greg Stiemsma

No longer on roster:

Chris Wilcox: Wilcox has a tattoo on his left shoulder.

Boston Celtics 2010-11

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:

Carlos Arroyo

Arroyo’s sole tattoo is his daughter’s name on his left forearm.

Glen Davis

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.

Kevin Garnett

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.

Jermaine O’Neal

tattooed. His "Year of the Resurrection" text, added in 1999 on his right shoulder, is a nice commemoration of Christian mythos and Y2K anxiety.

Shaquille O’Neal

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.”

Aleksandar Pavlovic

One of the rare tattooed Euro players in the league, Pavlovic has text on his forearm and a tiger on his ankle.

Paul Pierce

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).

Rajon Rondo

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.

Von Wafer

Has a few tattoos, including a cobweb on his elbow, representing his struggle.

Delonte West

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:

Ray Allen

Avery Bradley

Jeff Green

Nenad Krstic

Troy Murphy

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.