Grading the Tattoo Collection of NBA Superstars

Sean HojnackiFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2013

Grading the Tattoo Collection of NBA Superstars

0 of 8

    Tattoos are certainly prevalent around the NBA.

    Very few players are inkless, but some of them are among the best in the league. Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul don't have any tattoos. Neither do Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard.

    They are the exceptions. By far.

    Out of those that have them, some players have fantastic tattoos, like 90 percent of Chris Andersen's body or Nikola Pekovic's sweet gothic tats.

    J.R. Smith and Matt Barnes also have a lot of nice body art. It's always good when it looks like ink is crawling up your neck.

    Other players have crappy tattoos, like Richard Jefferson's cartoon "RJ" on his bicep. 

    Still other tattoos can be puzzling. Rudy Gay has "NRA" in script on his left hand, but he's not a gun enthusiast. It's a tribute to his grandmother.

    And he's far from the only player to pay tribute to lost loved ones by getting themselves inked. Monta Ellis has an elegant and intricate family tree drawn all over his arms and torso.

    But what about the superstars' ink? Well, let's grade 'em!

Honorable Mentions from the Non-Stars

1 of 8

    But first, I need to let you know, if you didn't already, about some awesome tattoos belonging to the lesser players around the league. Some of them are truly hilarious.

    I won't grade them, but they're here nonetheless.

    Gilbert Arenas has a giant tiger face inked across his torso. Michael Beasley has "Supercool Beas" across his shoulders.

    Jason Williams may not be in the league anymore, but he still has "WHIT" on his right knuckles and "EBOY" on his left knuckles. Marcin Gortat has the Jumpman logo on his calf. David West has "Carpe Diem" across his calves.

    Andrei Kirilenko has the back of a giant character from World of Warcraft on his back. Udonis Haslem has a map of the entire state of Florida on his back. Marquis Daniels does too.

    And in the coup de grace, Stephen Jackson has a picture of praying hands clasping a handgun imprinted on his stomach.

Derrick Rose

2 of 8

    Grade: A-

    The wizard on his left shoulder is called "Poohdini" after a childhood nickname given by his grandmother. On his left hand is "Sweet Home Chicago" with a basketball rising over the skyline of the Windy City. Let's hope he never gets traded.

    Rose also had a portrait of Malcolm X on his left calf. The former MVP also has several inspirational and/or religious tats. But getting creepy ink based on an ill-conceived nickname is pretty sweet.

Kobe Bryant

3 of 8

    Grade: C

    Kobe Bryant can do whatever he wants. He's brought five titles to the Los Angeles Lakers.

    But you still have to answer to the wife.

    That's why Kobe had "Vanessa" with a crown and butterfly wings tatted on his right arm.

    But in January of 2012, it was reported that the couple had reached a divorce settlement, and Vanessa Bryant would receive $75 million and three of the homes they owned together.

    They released a statement, advising: "The Bryants have resolved all issues incident to their divorce privately with the assistance of counsel and a judgment dissolving their marital status will be entered in 2012" (per New York Post).

    But a year later in January 2013, the couple took to social media to announce they had ironed their issues out. Vanessa announced via Instagram that her and Kobe had reconciled. Black Mamba conveyed the happy news on Facebook (per Adi Joseph of USA Today). 

    No word yet on whether a reconciliation tattoo is in the works.

Deron Williams

4 of 8

    Grade: B

    The Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams has "No Guts" tattooed on his left triceps. What's on the right one? That's right, "No Glory."

    He's also apparently made in Texas, at least according to his bicep, and he's a fan of panthers according to his right bicep. 

    Overall, he's got some pretty good ink. Points were deducted for the cartoony basketball on his "Texas Made" tat.

LeBron James

5 of 8

    Grade: B-

    LeBron James of the Miami Heat has some nice tats. He's repping the "330" for Akron, Ohio on his right forearm.

    He's got "Chosen 1" in huge font across his shoulders. That would be arrogant if he weren't LeBron, but he is.

    However, he also has "Loyalty" across his left oblique. Seriously? That's kind of messed up.

    I wonder how that makes people in Cleveland feel.

Carmelo Anthony

6 of 8

    Grade: B+

    Carmelo Anthony swaths his arms in sleeves on the court, but most of his ink is the standard fare. And they're all pretty good.

    But the most prominent and legible ink is the "WB" Warner Bros. symbol over his left shoulder. It stands for "West Baltimore," but using the symbol of the producers for Looney Tunes is not very indicative of West Baltimore's character.

    This drags the rest of his skin gallery down.

Kevin Durant

7 of 8

    Grade: A

    It's not common knowledge that once Kevin Durant pops his jersey off, he's basically got a jersey made out of ink underneath. And it covers most of his body!

    While the torso is a bit of a collage, his back is a full-on tribute to the state of Maryland (via NBC Sports' Kurt Helin). Wow. Now that's some of the most extreme dedication to the Old Line State I've ever seen.

Tim Duncan

8 of 8

    Grade: D

    Tim Duncan is a pillar of responsibility and professionalism in the NBA.

    He also has a tattoo of Merlin the magician on his left pectoral and a colorful court jester on his right shoulder.

    I laughed so hard when I first found this out. And I'm still chuckling a bit.