Tattoos are so common in today’s NBA that it takes a guy like Chris Andersen getting the majority of his neck covered in ink for us to really notice. Sure, every now and then we’ll see Richard Jefferson’s “RJ” or the entire Denver Nuggets team and remember just how many ridiculous tattoos are in the league, but for the most part they’re camouflage, blending in with everything else happening on our TV screens. This isn’t the 90s anymore. I think we’re all used to tattoos.
But some people — your Kareem Abdul-Jabbars and your old people — can’t stand all those tattoos. “Those tattoos are the worst! Tell those other grown-ups that I think they shouldn’t be able to put whatever they want on their own bodies!” Luckily for them, according to David Stern, tattoos will eventually fade away. No, not the ones that are already embedded in human skin, but the idea that getting tattoos is cool. From an interview with Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock:
JW: Final question, and it’s a curveball. It’s my pet issue — tattoos. If they were good for television, every sitcom or drama would employ heavily tatted actresses and actors. Tatts are an eyesore, especially in the era of HDTV. Have the players gone too far with the tatts?
DS: I guess what I would say to you, as diplomatically as I can, is when somebody invents a painless way to remove tattoos, there is going to be a lineup of our players saying, “Thank heavens! What was I thinking when I did this to myself?” And then I step back and say be careful because it depends upon your (perspective). It used to be afros and earrings and a whole lot of other things that were just expressions were viewed as something that was not desirable. And we stood back and said, “Come on, let’s relax.” So you and your anti-tattoo thing, I say, relax, this too shall pass.
Nothing to worry about, fun haters — tattoos will eventually not be cool anymore. Oh, and all those guys who show off their numerous tattoos for magazines, they want their tattoos removed, which doesn’t make sense because they’re showing them off. I mean, yeah, DeShawn Stevenson should probably want all of his tattoos removed from his body and the memories of anyone who has seen him with a backwards “P” on his face, but he’s probably not the type to admit that his tatts are not awesome. Trust me, he thinks they’re awesome.
This strikes me as kind of like when people thought cornrows would stop being popular once Allen Iverson cut his off. It made sense because things can’t stay fashionable forever, but guys kept getting their hair braided. Even AI got his rows back, eventually. Tattoos are just like cornrows — here to stay. You can find that information in “NBA Skin and Hair Styles: Talkin’ On Court Style,” out this February through Bad Books Publishing.
I can’t see a tattoo-free NBA becoming a reality unless everyone starts wearing a “Tron” bodysuit, which might eventually happen. Barring that, they’ll stick. I’d say “get used to it,” but we’ve already had about 15 years to adjust. I think we’ll be OK.