Professional basketball players – more than any other professional athlete – are the least covered up. Unlike football players and hockey players who cover up their faces with a helmet, basketball players wear a headband at the most. Unlike baseball players who wear a uniform that covers most of their shoulders and legs, basketball players only wear a tank top and a pair of shorts. However, what basketball players wear more than any other professional athletes do are tattoos. Not only do these human giants have the most tattoos, but they also have the largest canvases to do to put their tattoos on.
In the past decade, the culture in the NBA has shifted from hip-hop culture to somewhat a hipster culture. However, what both cultures have in common are tattoos. NBA players are well known for donning a lot of ink on their skins, which occasionally extend from their calves all the way up to their faces.
They say that getting tattoos can be addicting. If you have a tattoo yourself, you know how hard it is to stop at just one. More often than not, the decision to get another is really tempting and in the case of most NBA players, not just another, but another, another, and another.
We’ve all had days where we may have made some really hasty decisions that we regret the next day. Fortunately for us, not all of those things are as permanent as tattoos. The following is a list of NBA players who have donned the worst tattoos of all-time.
10. Reggie Miller’s “Belly Button”
This tattoo could easily be number one, but unlike many of the other players who have committed numerous tattoo felonies, Reggie Miller has only committed one. I am not sure what inspired (soberly or drunk) one of the greatest shooters of all-time to get a tattoo around his bellybutton, but Miller’s tattoo makes it look like he has way too much hair around his bellybutton. Most people want to show off their tattoos on the beach, but this is one occasion to keep your shirt on when at the beach.
9. Richard Jefferson’s “RJ”
Part of the appeal of tattoos is their intimidation factor. Richard Jefferson‘s “RJ” tattoo on his left shoulder not only lacks intimidation, but it lacks any sense of creativity. The circular letters make his tattoo look a bit childish. It is one of those things that a kid in high school would get, but not something that a pro-athlete would intentionally do. What makes the tattoo even worse is that RJ does not have any other tattoos, making this tattoo the one that sticks out the most.
8. Deshawn Stevenson’s “Abraham Lincoln”
DeShawn Stevenson has more tattoos on his body than someone can count on their fingers and toes. The most obvious tattoo is the Abraham Lincoln tattoo on his neck. Stevenson originally wanted Martin Luther King Jr. on his neck, but he told his former teammate at the time – Gilbert Arenas – that he was thinking about getting it. A few days later, Arenas supposedly stole Stevenson’s idea and got it himself. At that point Stevenson knew that he could not get one too, so he got an Abraham Lincoln one instead. Both figures were highly influential for racial reconciliation and equality. Having said that, putting another person’s face on your neck just looks a little weird.
7. Deron Williams’s “Panther”
Up close, Deron Williams‘s tattoo looks pretty cool. It is actually a tattoo that he adjusted after he got into the league. The former tattoo of his Panther looked a bit soft and lacked any intimidation. The new one looks a lot sharper and much more intimidating. However, there has been so much alteration done with this new Panther, that from a distance, you cannot see the details, which makes it look like a giant black mark on his right arm. Tattoos have to look cool up close and from a distance, but Williams’s tattoo just look like a giant birthmark.
6. Kenyon Martin’s “Red Lips”
Kenyon Martin is another player whose tattoos would be too hard to count. One of them is a tattoo that Martin clearly regrets getting. On the picture on the left, Martin has giant red lips right behind his ear. Tattoos above the neck cannot be hidden and the fact that its red makes it even more visible. Martin must have gotten a lot of negative feedback for the tattoo because he eventually tried to transform it into another tattoo, only it is not really recognizable at this point. I do not know who did the tattoo, but it was clearly a botched job. Sometimes, it’s better to have your tattoo removed than to have it covered with another.
5. Matt Barnes’s “Footprints”
Matt Barnes has some cool tattoos and some not-so-cool tattoos. The not-so-cool tattoo is on the left side of his neck. By all accounts, the tattoo probably has a lot of meaning for Barnes, but from an aesthetic point of view, it looks a little bit odd. Even if the image is of his child’s feet, tattoos on the neck are hard to pull off, especially when they are a pair of feet. Significance is important when you get a tattoo, but so is the aesthetic factor. Just because something might mean a lot, does not mean you have to get it permanently printed on your body.
4. Monta Ellis’s “Family Tree”
Monta Ellis is another player that has colorfully decorated his body with tattoos. The tree on Monta’s chest is actually very creative, however, the baby face on the branches is really out of place. Again, the image probably has a lot of meaning for Monta, but a baby’s face hanging on a bunch of tree branches is a little bit freaky looking. Tattoos can look intentionally intimidating, but they should not look unintentionally scary.
3. Gilbert Arenas’s “Lion Chest”
Gilbert Arenas wins points for being creative, but not for being cool. Arenas has a lion tattooed on his chest. His nipples actually serve as the lion’s eyes. It’s one of those tattoos where you initially think, “oh, that’s pretty cool,” but then you think to yourself, “why in the world would someone actually do that to themselves?” There are a lot of things that Arenas regrets doing during his career and this should rank right at the top of them. This would have been funny if it was a joke, but it’s another thing when it is permanent.
2. J.R. Smith’s “Whole Body”
Where do we begin with J.R. Smith? Smith is covered literally all over his body. Smith pays homage to everyone from Michael Jordon to Jesus Christ. However, the tattoo that looks the most out of place is the Yankee logo right on his Adam’s apple, along with the Transformer image on the side of his neck. Smith is the quintessential example of someone who clearly could not stop at one tattoo. There is a big difference between art and doodling, and Smith’s body looks like a child grabbed a tattoo gun and did a whole bunch of doodling. Sometimes less is more.
1. Chris “The Coloring Book” Andersen
Chris “Birdman” Andersen is probably known more for his tattoos and hair than for his rebounding and shot blocking abilities. Anderson was drafted into the NBA in 1999 and his body looked like a blank canvas, but 15 years later he has covered most of that blank canvas in tattoos. Anderson actually has a lot of cool tattoos on his body. The coolest is probably the pair of wings that he has on both of his biceps emblematic of his nickname – “Birdman.” However, tattoos tend to look a lot better with a darker tone, but today Andersen’s body looks more like a coloring book, making him number one on our NBA’s 10 Worst Tattoo List.