The stories behind the wildest tattoos of the NBA

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NBA ink has been a look all its own; always personal, always on display, and never ever boring. Prepare to be amazed — and also a little weirded out — by some of the league’s most infamous, imaginative and out-there human art.

You have a Buddy on me

Yes, that really is a “Friends” logo on present Boston Celtic and famous flat-earther Kyrie Irving’s arm. Why? Turns out he only really, really, really likes the show.

“One day I stumbled through probably enjoy a full season of episodes and fell in love with it,” Irving told GQ at 2015. Just the way that they handled all of the connections on this show. If I was a child none of that made sense to me personally, but today I totally related to it”

Like so many “Friends” lovers, Irving discovered his muse in the show’s lovable oaf Joey, played by Matt LeBlanc.

“Joey definitely inspired me to get the tattoo,” he explained. “I’ve got it using a few of my other buddies, and we have it at exactly the exact same place. We believed it would be a fantastic tattoo, since we enjoy the show.”

That championship mindset

Each year, before every Super Bowl, NBA Finals, World Series or Stanley Cup, there is some bad dude who receives a sign of his team’s future championship prominently splashed on his own body at a moment of wishful and totally sober thinking.

They never triumph.

Well, unless you are Jason Terry.

In 2010, the then-Dallas Maverick got the Larry O’Brien Trophy tattooed in his inaugural. Prior to the season even began. Unsurprisingly he was roasted for months over it, right up until the Mavericks went across the way and Terry got to hold the real thing.

Terry, today using the Milwaukee Bucks, told ESPN his teammates did not believe he would actually go through with all the tattoo. After he did, well, they did not have a choice but to triumph.

“If they actually see me, they were like, ‘This boy is serious,'” he explained. “Along with our entire talk and dialogue was about right today, about us getting to the point and winning it all.”

Oh, and incidentally, Terry’s far from the only NBA superstar with an ode to that sweet golden basket. Golden State Warriors center   JaVale McGee’s is particularly superior, and he got it, you know, after   his team won the title this season. Like a normal person.

Brother, Brother

When life gives you an identical twin who performs basketball just as well because you do, it’s only natural that you attempt to take advantage of this situation. Like say, for instance, obtaining a whole collage of matching tattoos.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Marcus and Markieff Morris.

Even the baller twins — Marcus plays for the Celtics, Markieff for your Wizards — have whole sets of tattoos that match or are very similar.   The whole appearance tells a story that is distinctively them. In their left arms, they’ve praying hands together with the inscription “A gift from God.” In their best arms, they’ve murals of Philadelphia, where they climbed up. A theme in their own ink is the acronym F.O.E. –“Family Over Everything.”

In 2014, when the twins were searching for the Phoenix Suns, their tats were so popular the brothers actually let fans vote on their second joint tattoo.

Thankfully, it was nothing bizarre (there is only a lot of “Friends” vases that the world can handle). It ended up being a ribbon honoring their grandma, who had passed away the previous year.

He has his spine

NBA players like to get tattoos. Deal with it. In case you were extremely rich and powerful and trendy you would probably get a tattoo of yourself also.

Would you receive a very nostalgic, full-body rendering of you screaming triumphantly? Maybe not. But the Brooklyn Nets’ Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could.

The best part of Hollis-Jefferson’s narrative is that he wasn’t even at the pros when he got the ink at 2014. He is even in his school jersey! That is a lot of faith! Why?

“Myself must see my spine,” he told The Brooklyn Game.

Well, uh, yes. You can not argue with that.

(As a side note, if you ARE going to find a enormous back piece of your self, at least have a peek out of Hollis-Jefferson and do it really, really well.)

Alter ego

A very fantastic subset of NBA tattoos is your “arbitrary thing holding a basketball” motif. Ranking high among them is Mario Chalmers’ recent ink, which is approaching perfection regarding both theory and execution.

Unsurprisingly, Chalmers contrasts using all the video game character Super Mario, in order 2015 that he got a giant tat of Mario holding a basketball. It is fantastic. There is nothing else you need to know.


Talking of random things holding basketballs, it’s time to discuss among the NBA’s most infamous and puzzling tattoos. Apologies, people, it’s Poohdini time.

This lovely piece of portraiture graces the arm of Derrick Rose, among the best athletes in the group. It’s, to the ordinary observer, a magician, conjuring or in possession of, a basketball, using the phrase “Poohdini” composed in script over it.

There is a perfectly rational excuse for this, however  it can not be said in any better terms than Rose himself, who explained it thusly:

“A magician holding a ball, ‘Poohdini, ” my nickname moving across there like magic. So the Great Houdini, I place ‘Poohdini.’ I put the ‘Dini’ at the rear of ‘Pooh’ so it would seem like Poohdini, like the Great. My grandma developed the title ‘Pooh,’ it’s like Winnie the Pooh Bear, so it stuck with me my entire life”

Got that? Sweet grandma nickname + magician = Poohdini. Derrick Rose is a performer and also a wordsmith for all our time.

In the paint

Lance Thomas is something of a renaissance guy, and it reveals — literally. Even the New York Knicks forward majored in visual arts at Duke, also includes a penchant for sketch work and electronic manipulation.   It is no surprise that he created the art for some of his tattoos.

Usually when someone says “I pulled my tattoo,” you have to prepare yourself for a jump fire. But Thomas’ intricate drawing of the state of New Jersey — where he grew up — topped with a crown is really something to behold.