The Best Illustrated Men of the NBA

By | January 12, 2014

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After the NBA lockout was over, I was at the One10 Lounge in downtown Pittsburgh discussing the NBA, NBA salaries and top players when the topic of NBA tattoos came up.

During the debate whether to ink or not, I discovered that opinions on tats are all over the board! While body art is extremely popular, not everyone was willing to get one despite admiration for others’ illustrated bodies.


Sabrina, the bartender during Tuesday night’s karaoke, informed me that she was attracted to, and fascinated with, tattoos even though she didn’t have one. Several of the guys at One10 mentioned that women with colorful work on a buff body was erotic, while others didn’t understand the hype over getting inked.

For years, Dennis Rodman was often considered an odd character for his body art, hairstyles and piercings. In the 90s, Rodman was the only NBA player of note sporting tats. Today, the NBA players are expressing themselves and sharing life experiences with fans through tattoos. These are a few of the NBA’s most illustrated men and the stories behind some of the art.


Carmelo Anthony. Known as Melo, Carmelo Anthony is virtually covered with tattoos from scalp to ankle. The immensely talented NBA superstar, now playing for the New York Knicks, definitely has one of the most decorated bodies in the entire NBA. Enough said. To view detailed images of Melo’s tats, visit the Carmelo Anthony page on Celebrity Tattoos.

Chris Andersen. Not sure whether it’s the high altitude or what, but another Denver Nugget player has mad tats! The “Birdman” turned many-a-head after returning to the NBA from a forced two-year vacation. The massive and colorful tat on his shoulder has been admired and mocked by many. Art is such a judgmental and opinionated thing and is almost always relative to the person and their sense of taste — or the lack thereof. For detailed photos of one of the NBA’s most illustrated players, visit The Birdman’s Tattoo page on Tattoo Stars.

Larry Hughes. As with most NBA players, Larry Hughes’ tattoos illustrate his personal history. His body is divided — left side tats reflect his personal hellish events; right side art mostly symbolizes heavenly memories. When contemplating which tat to get next, Hughes says, “They usually mean something. I have to feel it, you know? I just don’t get ’em to get ’em.” Favorite tattoo? One of his favorites pieces is a tornado tat on his stomach complete with lightening bolts.


Allen Iverson. The perennial MVP candidate may be one of the top three most illustrated basketball player to date. Best know for his “The Answer” bulldog tattoo on his left arm he entered the NBA with back in 1996, Iverson has used in body to express his loyalties, inner strength, beliefs and life struggles.

Iverson has several tats representing his family, such as wife’s name (Tawanna) on stomach and children’s names (Tiaura and Duece) on his right chest. His maternal grandmother, passed away when Al was an infant. To mark her place Iverson sports her initials, next to his mother’s initials, on his chest directly above praying hands — right over his heart. See some of AI’s bodywork on Allen Iverson’s unofficial fan page.

Dennis Rodman. The former NBA rebounding machine and defensive great, who is known for his bizarre fashion style and tabloid antic is covered in tattoo designs, including bulls and other creatures. Dennis has an extensive amount of really large tribal tattoos on his stomach, shoulder and neck. The meaning of them? What’s the driving force behind his extraordinary amount of illustrations? Your guess is as good as mine. For images of Rodman’s tats, visit Dennis Rodman’s page on Celebrity Tattoos.


The NBA has dozens of illustrated players worth mentioning, however, space is limited. Watch for future articles featuring other inked NBA players such as Cory Maggette, Doug Christie, Mike Bibby, Shaq, Mateen Cleaves, Cherokee Parks, K-Mart, and Steph Marbury.

Giovanni lives in Pittsburgh, a great sports town without a professional basketball team, but is a fan of the Orlando Magic where he lived for over 30 years.
Subscribe to Giovanni’s content feed and follow him on Twitter @DotmanGio.

Read more from this contributor:

“Top Five NBA Superstars of 2005”
“MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ Loses $420,000 Tax Credit”
“P.Diddy’s son, Justin Combs, Offered a Scholarship at UCLA”

Andrew Gottlieb, “in the PAINT: tattoos of the NBA and the stories behind them” (2003)
Bleacher Report, “The 10 Best Tattoos In The NBA” (a slideshow)

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