Why Do NBA Players Have Many Tattoos? The Truth!

Why NBA Players Have Many Tattoos

NBA players have many tattoos to reflect basketball culture, display wealth, and intimidate opponents. Players like Dennis Rodman and Allen Iverson popularized tattoos in the NBA, making it a common trend among players today.

Basketball players like to express themselves inside the court. They also want to look cool to intimidate their opposing teams. That is why basketball players like to have many tattoos on themselves. Some basketball players use some stuff like masks, arm sleeves, etc. to make them look cooler. They also express themselves by listening to some basketball music, social media, and pre-game outfits. 

We all know the reason why NBA players wear cool outfits, why they post cool posts on their social media accounts etc. However, we all don’t know why these NBA players have tattoos and why they have so many tattoos on their bodies? Is tattoos an NBA culture? Or is it just a fashion as well?

Today, we are going to take a deeper look at the reasons why NBA players have so many tattoos. We will also discuss who is the player who has the most tattoos in the NBA. If you are ready, then let us go!

Why Do NBA Players Have So Many Tattoos?

Why do NBA players have so many tattoos? The three reasons why NBA and other basketball players have so many tattoos are:

  • It is part of basketball culture
  • To show wealth
  • To intimidate opponents

Let’s break them down and let’s learn more about these reasons!

Basketball Culture

Tattoos are basketball culture, and it is the culture of African back in the old times. Most NBA players are African-American that is why it is common for them to have tattoos or piercings around their bodies. If you will take a closer look at all NBA players, you will notice that more African-American players have tattoos than white players. 

Show Wealth

We all wanted to show wealth and brag how many zeros our bank accounts had, and this kind of bragging is common to NBA players. NBA players brag all the time, it is either they brag about how they play, or they brag about their wealth.

One way NBA players show how many dollars they have is by having lots of tattoos around their body, why? Because tattoos are expensive especially if you want to put inks around your body. Putting tattoos around your body can also have many sessions, and those sessions take a lot of time for the artist to finish. That is why artists charge large amounts of money for people who want to fill up their bodies with inks. Lastly, if NBA players wanted their tattoos to be perfect, that is why they spend too many dollars on tattoos. 

Intimidate Opponents

Let me ask you a question. Are you intimidated with a 6’0 footer guy that has lots of tattoos, or are you intimidated with a 6’0 footer guy who has no tattoos? 

NBA players want to intimidate and put fear into the opponent’s heart. Because when the opponent becomes nervous, they will lose focus and will not be able to perform well. Rather than having a physique body, NBA players use to have many tattoos to intimidate their opponents. 

Who Was The First Player In The NBA To Have Tattoos?

For this question, there is no exact answer because tattoos have been around a long time, and some players back in the 50s possibly have tattoos but it was hidden. The use of revealed tattoos in basketball became popular in the 1990s. 

But, the trend started in the NBA because of Dennis Rodman back in the 90s. People think that Rodman is the first NBA player to have tattoos but as I have said above, possibly some NBA players back in the 50s have tattoos but hidden. However, it was Rodman who made it more popular because of lots of ink around his body. 

Tattoos became a part of basketball culture after the 1990s. It is used by lots of players in today’s era like Lebron James, Chris “Birdman” Andersen, etc. Below are the two players who started the tattoo trend in the NBA:

Dennis Rodman 

Dennis Rodman wasn’t only famous because of his athleticism, his hustle plays, and how good he grabbed rebounds. Rodman was also well known for having many tattoos around his body. During his rookie year with the Pistons, Rodman was amazed at veteran Adrian Dantley’s tattoos on his hip. 

After Rodman was amazed, Rodman started to put some tattoos on his body slowly. Adrian Dantley knew the first time he saw Rodman’s first tattoo that this guy would start a trend in the NBA. After Rodman successfully covered up his body with tattoos, the trend started to go up, and many NBA started to have tattoos. 

Rodman wanted to be different in terms of fashion in the NBA. He changed his hair color often and covered his bodies with tattoos. Rodman did these kinds of things to be different and so that he will have his trademark. 

Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson adapted the culture of American hip hop in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He started to make his hair in braids, baggy pants, and tattoos. Iverson wasn’t just known for his speed and his bloody crossover that made crowds go woah, but he was also known for his hair braids and his tattoos. 

When Allen Iverson entered the league, he didn’t have tattoos around his body. Iverson started to have tattoos when he decided to use it to express his feelings to others. Allen Iverson said in an interview that every one of his tattoos means something to him. He said:

“A set of praying hands between my grandma’s initials—she died when I was real young—and my mom’s initials. I put shit on my body that means something to me.”

Allen Iverson created his trademark so that people will remember him easily. When most fans saw a player with braided hair, arm sleeves, and many tattoos, they remembered Allen Iverson.

Top 5 Most Tattooed NBA Players 

Aside from Iverson and Rodman, these top five players are also included in the most tattooed players in the NBA. They are known for having lots of tattoos around their bodies, and it became their trademark. 

Chris “Birdman” Andersen

The Birdman is known for his monstrous dunk and blocks. Chris Andersen is the most tattooed NBA player of all time. He was part of the Miami Heat’s championship run, and he managed to have one ring before he retired from the NBA in 2017. 

Besides being a part of the Big 3 champion in the NBA in 2018, Andersen also appeared in other basketball leagues overseas. 

J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith became a meme because of the dumbest play he made last 2018. He started playing in the NBA last year 2004 where the New Orlean drafted him. Smith’s prime years were when Smith played with Melo for the New York Knicks. He was also part of the Cleveland Cavaliers for a championship run. 

Monta Ellis

NBA star Monta Ellis retired from playing basketball in 2017 after playing 12 seasons. His last team is the Indiana Pacers. He was also one of the most tattooed NBA players in history because of his tattoos on his arms. Ellis’s prime years were with the Warriors, where he showed that he is an unstoppable guard. 

Kenyon Martin

Kenyon Martin played for six teams in his entire NBA career. He started playing in the NBA last 2002, and he first played for the Brooklyn Nets. Martin decided to retire in 2015 from the Milwaukee Bucks. Kenyon Martin still holds his place among the most tattooed NBA players. 

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest of all time, and he led the Lakers for five championships. Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers for his whole career, and he spent 20 seasons with the Lakers. 

Kobe was included in our list because of his tattoos on his shoulder and arms. 

Below are the trending tattoos that most NBA players put on their bodies:

  • Barb Wire
  • Chinese Writing
  • A Basketball
  • Flowers
  • Butterflies
  • Basketball
  • Praying hands cross

Final Words

Some of the NBA players decided to have many tattoos on their bodies so that it would be their trademark and some of them have personal reasons. Whatever the reason why NBA players have many tattoos, it is indeed a cool fashion. I don’t want this trend to die because it is amazing seeing NBA players with lots of tattoos on their bodies while they run inside the basketball court

Which of the NBA players who have many tattoos do you like the most? Comment your answers in the comments section below!

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