Your Guide To NBA Tattoos
For serious tattoo fans, the NBA is an absolute goldmine. Assuming, that is, you’re looking for tattoos depicting a variety of animals dunking. Over the next month, The Sport Count looks at the very best and very worst of NBA tattoos.
Who is it? Chauncey Billups, the most loved point guard in Michigan. Until Rodney Stuckey is ready to start.
What do they appear to depict? To the left, we see ‘the theatre masks’, most commonly seen in low-rent ‘dramatic arts’ venues run by goatee-sporting men named Gavin. To the right, we have a king spinning a basketball while holding a sceptre. Obviously.
Why did he get them? Most NBA fans don’t know that Chauncey spent his Denver childhood dreaming of Hollywood. Unfortunately, his early teen growth spurts limited the parts he could play — ‘black henchmen’ and ‘doorman at club #2′ were the only roles he was ever offered.
As for the Globetrotter-esque King? ‘My neighbourhood back home is called Park Hill,’ Billups has said. ‘It’s a hood thing.’
Was it a good idea? We’re not going to argue with a hood thing. And it’s a relief that the masks aren’t playing basketball.
Who is it? Either the bassist from Rage Against the Machine, or Oklahoma City centre Robert Swift.
What do they appear to depict? It looks as if Robert has gone down to the parlour and asked for the ‘cliché package’: a bunch of tribal tatts, a few Nepalese characters and some sort of big cat predator — grarr!
Why did he get them? Swift doesn’t know how many tattoos he has, but he does know that he’s spent 108 hours under the needle. Which, incidentally, is five times more than his total time on an NBA court, arguably making him a professional tattoo subject and part-time baller.
Was it a good idea? Whilst pictures speak louder than words, it’s always great ridiculing a ridiculous white man. The criss cross of tribal paint looks like the decorations on a children’s project about New Zealand. The Nepalese text potentially reads ‘bench warmer,’ and the wolf represents one of the few NBA franchises where Swift would get more than fifteen minutes floor time per game.
Who is it? Jameer Nelson, iffy point guard for the Orlando Magic.
What does it appear to depict? Nelson has tattooed the Shakurism All Eyes On Me across the top of his back.
Why did he get it? You can imagine Jameer Nelson, college superstar, kicking back in his St. Joseph’s dorm room, bumping the classic 1995 album and really feeling some empathy. ‘Yeah, so much pressure being the number one college player in the country. All eyes really are on me. I’m going to get a tattoo.’
He then got inked, hoping that this maxim would help alleviate some of the stress which comes with being the nation’s best player. Turned out all it took was NBA scouts realising he was 5′11″ and terribly inconsistent and, all of a sudden, on draft day, All Eyez were actually on someone completely different, and as far away from Jameer as possible, until he was taken with the 20th pick.
Was it a good idea? Getting tattoos about rappers or of rappers is generally a bad idea. Think about it this way:
The only way that this tattoos adage would ever actually be true again is if Jameer were to take to the court in drag playing a banjo. Either that or Otis Smith would have to trade Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu for Donyell Marshall, Robert Traylor and JamesOn Curry. Even then, surely some eyes would still be on Keyon Dooling.
Who is it? Former drug pig and current Nugget Chris ‘The Birdman’ Andersen.
What do they appear to depict? That’s a realistic bulldog on one pectoral, and a cartoon bulldog dunking a basketball on the other. Don’t forget the bicep-based faceless monster dunking a basketball, wearing pixie shoes. The forearm tattoo might be one of the Spy Vs. Spy guys, we don’t know.
Why did he get them? Coke.
Was it a good idea? At 2am outside Jimmy’s Tattoo Hut in Cancun, on a warm spring night, after three bumps, absolutely.
Who is it? Luke Walton, Lakers small forward and son of basketball god Bill.
What does it appear to depict? It looks like an army of monkeys dunking basketballs. That’s not what it is, but that is what it looks like.
Why did he get it? Apparently, they’re dancing skeletons, a homage to the Grateful Dead. And each skeleton represents one of Luke’s brothers. Which is nice. It’s just a shame the tattooist misheard ’skeleton’ as ‘monkey.’
Was it a good idea? If you’re a Grateful Dead freak, maybe. Bear in mind that Grateful Dead freaks think smoking natural herb while listening to Garcia noodle his guitar for twenty minutes on a live bootleg from ‘72 is a good idea.
Fans of the classic 1970s series Monkey Magic may also appreciate the design.