The Best and Worst Tattoos on NBA Playoff Ballers

Luke Petkac@@LukePetkacFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2013

The Best and Worst Tattoos on NBA Playoff Ballers

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    There are way more tattoos in the NBA than there are players at this point, so choosing between the best and worst of them can be pretty tough. Even if we're just talking about playoff ballers.

    Tattoos, like all art, are a matter of personal preference. Not everyone's going to agree on what constitutes a good or a bad one.

    With that being said though, there are definitely some very good and some very, very bad tattoos out there. Some that make personal preference entirely irrelevant. That's for sure.

Honorable Mentions

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    The Worst:

    Deron Williams' Black Panther

    Deron Williams' black panther tattoo looks okay close up, but it's unrecognizable from any distance further than a few feet. It just looks like a big black blob on Williams' arm.

    Kenyon Martin's Creepy Baby

    Buckle up. That's not the last creepy baby you'll see in this article.


    The Best:

    Jason Terry's Champion Celtic

    Hey, it worked when he was with the Dallas Mavericks. You've got to at least respect Terry's attempt to go two-for-two.

    Quentin Richardson's Chicago Skyline

    A tattoo of a skyline will always be cool. Especially if it's as good as Chicago's is. That's a given.

The Best—No. 8: J. R. Smith's Transformers

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    That's right, J.R. Smith is a huge “Transformers” fan and has both the Autobot and Decepticon emblems tattooed on his neck. Smith told The Denver Post's Benjamin Hochman:

    I was a fan when I was growing up. I got the tattoos about a month-and-a-half ago. I like the second “Transformers” movie better. I like how they brought some of the old characters back.

    I won't lie: I love that Smith is a big enough fan of the Transformers to get them tattooed to his neck. He's wrong about the second movie, though. Beyond wrong. It's awful.

The Worst—No. 7: Kevin Durant's New Typo

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    Kevin Durant's newest back tattoo (a verse from James 1:2-4), is actually pretty cool, but it also has one glaring flaw. The word “mature” in the bottom left corner is written “mautre.”

    Oof. Luckily (or unluckily) for Durant, his one and a half million followers on Instagram caught the mistake pretty quickly, so the tattoo will probably get fixed soon. But for now, it goes down as some of the worst ink on a playoff baller.

The Best—No. 7: Tim Duncan's Skeleton Jester

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    Seriously, what could be more Tim Duncan than some kind of Dungeons & Dragons tattoo? It's perfect, right?

    This is the guy who plays paintball, collects knives and swords, has a tattoo of Merlin and actually wanted to be nicknamed “Merlin” when he first entered the league (via ESPN's TrueHoop). If you didn't know who had this tattoo and were taking odds on who it was, Duncan would have been a 1,000-to-1 favorite.

    The lesson, as always: Tim Duncan is the greatest.

The Worst—No. 6: LeBron James' "Chosen 1"

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    I know that “Chosen One” was LeBron James' nickname and all, but someone should have told him that having stuff like that tattooed on his body in big block letters comes off as a little bit arrogant. Just a teensy bit.

    Though to be fair, the tattoo did lead to this photo (via Shaver Sports), which is one of the NBA's funniest moments in the past five years and yet another reason to love Anderson Varejao. So it's definitely not all bad.  

The Best—No. 6: Kevin Durant's "Maryland"

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    Kevin Durant decided to get a tattoo that paid homage to his home state, and it actually turned out well.

    I've got to admit, this is an impressive piece of work. The “Maryland” across the top is really nice and so are the hands signaling his jersey number (better not change that anytime soon, Kevin).

    As we saw earlier, the lower back portion of the tattoo is pretty lacking right now, so it's nice to see Durant's got at least a few good tattoos.

The Worst—No. 5: Amar'e Stoudemire's "Black Jesus"

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    It's pretty hard to get behind Amar'e Stoudemire's “Black Jesus” neck tattoo for the same reason that it's hard to get behind LeBron James' “Chosen 1” tattoo. They can be construed as a little bit pompous.

    Plus, Spike Lee already cast Ray Allen as the basketball Jesus in his 1998 sports-drama He Got Game. Sorry, Amar'e. That ship has sailed.

The Best—No. 5: Brandon Jennings' "Young Money"

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    I'm 110 percent sure that I'm not cool enough to speculate on the actual significance of this tattoo, but it does look pretty dang awesome.

    Most bigger tattoos are in huge block letters that are pretty unappealing, but Brandon Jennings' “Young Money” tattoo is in a flowing, calligraphy-style script that looks genuinely cool. On a scale from “Monta Ellis' incredibly creepy tattoo” (more on this in a second) to 10, this would be a solid nine.

The Worst—No. 4: Richard Jefferson's "RJ"

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    Richard Jefferson may not have the best tattoo in the league, but at least he's financially responsible.

    Jefferson clearly didn't want to pay top dollar for a professional to design his tattoo, so he just had a local elementary school student whip up this bad boy. Sure it looks terrible, but you can never be too careful in today's economy.

    Not even when you've made nearly $100 million over the course of your NBA career (via Basketball-Reference). Smart thinking, RJ.

The Best—No. 4: Chris "Birdman" Andersen's Wings

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    Sure, the wings are a little corny. And they're definitely a little understated since Chris “Birdman” Andersen has roughly 600 other tattoos that are just as big and just as colorful.

    But you know what, you can't deny that the wings look great, and I think it's cool that Anderson has completely bought into the “Birdman” nickname. He flaps his arms, he has the many athletes are recognized more by their nickname than their actual name? Not many.

    But I guarantee you more people know the name “Birdman” than they do Chris Andersen. That's pretty neat. I think.

The Worst—No. 3: Monta Ellis' Family Tree

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    Honestly, Monta Ellis' family tree tattoo looks pretty cool at first glance. The key words being “at first glance.”

    Because once you get a look at that giant, angry-looking baby floating on Monta's chest, it's hard to focus on anything else. Seriously. That baby will haunt your dreams.

The Best—No. 3: DeShawn Stevenson's Abraham Lincoln

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    I'll be honest, I wasn't sure whether to put this in the “Best” or “Worst” category. But I settled on “Best” because DeShawn Stevenson's description of why he got the tattoo is incredible.

    Stevenson told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas (via Yahoo! Sports' Kelly Dwyer):

    I was going to get Martin Luther King and I told Gilbert Arenas.You should never tell nobody your idea. That summer, he came back and got it. So I didn't know who to get. I got Abraham Lincoln because he freed the slaves. I just had Abraham Lincoln and, from a distance, everybody kept saying, “Who is that?” So I put the five-dollar bill so everybody would stop asking me.

    That slays me. Not just that Stevenson got Abraham Lincoln's face (which is extremely realistic, by the way) tattooed to his neck, but that he had to get the number five tattooed on both sides so that people could tell who Lincoln was. That's gold.

    (Note: You'll be not-so-shocked to learn that next up is...)

The Worst—No. 2: Almost Everything Else DeShawn Stevenson Has

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    DeShawn Stevenson almost wins just from the sheer number of weird/bad tattoos he has.

    For starters, he has this Pittsburgh Pirates “P” tattooed on his left cheek. You probably noticed that the “P” is backwards and looks more like a “9.” There's no explanation for that. Stevenson swears that if you stand from a certain angle it looks like a “P,” (via The Washington Times' Mike Jones), but it doesn't.

    In the same photo, you can also see a tattoo of a crack on Stevenson's upper forehead. Stevenson told Jones:

    I don’t crack. I feel like people always try to break me, but I don’t crack. So, I put that there.

    So to prove that he doesn't crack, Stevenson tattooed a crack on his forehead. Hmm. Seems counter-intuitive to me, but whatever.

    Finally, there's the back tattoo of Stevenson's name and number, which is particularly great since Stevenson's jersey number is now 92. He's virtually a walking mural of bad tattoos.

The Best—No. 2: Wilson Chandler's Juggernaut

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    NBA players must have a thing for cartoon characters. It seems like everyone's got a tattoo of some kind of cartoon, but of them all, Wilson Chandler's tattoo of the Juggernaut (from X-Men fame) is by far the best.

    Just look how intricate that thing is. It's insane.

    Chandler told The Denver Post's Chris Dempsey that he got the tattoo not only because he likes the X-Men, but because he wants to play like a juggernaut on the court. I'm not sure if the comparison is great since Chandler's more of a finesse guy, but it doesn't change the fact that the tattoo is freaking awesome.

The Worst—No. 1: Marquis Daniels' "Only the Strong Survive"

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    This is genuinely one of the most depressing things I've ever seen. Not just among tattoos. Among anything.

The Best—No. 1: Kenyon Martin's Cross

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    I don't care if you're religious or not, you have to admit that Kenyon Martin's tattoo is great.

    It's detailed, it's clear, there's no typos and best of all, it really does sum up Martin's attitude on the court. He's tough, throws his body around, gives maximum effort at all times and genuinely does seem like he fears no one.

    Right tattoo, right player.

Bonus Tattoo: Stephen Jackson's Praying Hands with Gun

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    This technically shouldn't be in here since Stephen Jackson was waived by the San Antonio Spurs just before they got to the playoffs. But this tattoo is so bad that it's getting thrown in as a bonus.

    Believe it or not, Jackson got this tattoo after pleading guilty to a 2007 felony charge of criminal recklessness for firing a gun into the air at an Indianapolis strip club.

    When he was asked about the tattoo, Jackson simply said (via the Associated Press):

    I pray I never have to use it (a gun) again.

    Wise. I've always felt that there's no better way to prevent gun violence than by getting a gun tattooed on your body, and Jackson apparently feels the exact same way. Really inspiring stuff. And also kind of weird.