The NBA is making Hornets star LaMelo Ball cover up his neck tattoo. Here’s why.
Charlotte Hornets All-Star guard LaMelo Ball will be required to cover up a tattoo below his left ear due to a league policy prohibiting commercial logos on players’ bodies, according to the NBA.
Ball, 22, has the initials “LF” tattooed – short for his middle name LaFrance, which doubles as the name for his apparel company – in red ink behind his left ear. Ball also has the same tattoo on his right hand, although that’s not the tattoo in violation of the league rules.
“Per the (collective bargaining agreement), players are prohibited from displaying commercial logos or corporate insignia on their body or in their hair during games,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports on Friday. “We try to enforce the rule reasonably, in accordance with its purpose, and taking into account players’ efforts to express themselves in a non-commercial manner. But LaMelo Ball’s neck tattoo is in obvious violation of the rule and, accordingly, he’s required to cover it.”
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Ball, who is averaging 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 8.6 assists this season, wore a bandage over his neck tattoo on Tuesday during the Hornets’ 111-105 loss to the Miami Heat to avoid any fines from the league, ESPN reported.
According to the outlet, representatives for Ball argued that other players in the past had tattoos that could be considered corporate logos, from the Jordan brand to Michelin, but the NBA said those players didn’t have endorsement deals with those companies.
Ball signed with Puma in 2020 ahead of the NBA Draft, where he was selected by the Hornets with the third overall pick. Ball released a LaFrance x Puma collaboration last month.
Ball was spotted wearing a blue bandage on his neck during Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
In 2018, Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith had to cover a tattoo of the Supreme logo, a New York-based streetwear company, on the back of his back leg to avoid discipline from the league.
Smith went on social media to voice his displeasure at the time, writing in a now-deleted post: “So I was informed today that I would be fined every game if I don’t cover up my ‘SUPREME TATTOO’ on my legs during games!! These people in the league office are something else!”
“I swear I’m the only person they do (expletive) like this to,” Smith continued. “So you mean to tell me I have to cover up my tattoo for what? You don’t make people cover up Jordan logos, NIKE checks or anything else but because it’s me it’s a problem all of a sudden!!! (expletive) whack.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA orders LaMelo Ball of Hornets to cover up tattoo below his ear
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