From Iverson to the James, societys acceptance of tattoos has followed in lockstep with the proliferation of ink in the NBA. Iverson was drafted in 1996 and as his star rose in the league, so did his number of tattoos. In December of 1999, the NBA received blowback when HOOP Magazine, an official publication of the league, airbrushed away some of Iversons tattoos for its cover. Since then, the league has embraced tattoos, says NBA Commissioner David Stern, who called players ink a matter of personal expression.
Different people will have a different reaction to it, Stern said. I view them on the spectrum of people who used to ask us how we felt about afros, because there was a significant fan base that was turned off by afros. And weve gone from afros to cornrows.
Our players are very much who they are and they are encouraged to express themselves in all ways, and one of those ways in which they choose to express themselves is with tattoos. Well accept that on that basis. Its fine.
Watch closely when Miller checks into games and youll see him touch the tattoos on his chest: Miller Time, against all odds and Truly Blessed. Boshs entire back is a tattoo of a tree, which represents family, among other things.
It was just something I was going through in my lifetime, Bosh said. Its pretty personal but it was an adventurous time. I was kind of stepping outside of my norm, and I wanted something to remember it.
Haslem, who attended Miami Senior High and the University of Florida, has the state map of Florida tattooed on his back. Along the left side of his torso is a Bible verse, which includes Galatians 6:9: And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Of course, Haslems tattooed fingers tell you all you need to know about him. 100% REAL, declare his digits.
Heat players without tattoos include the oldest player on the team, Juwan Howard, and the youngest, Norris Cole. Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade and Joel Anthony are also inkless. A sign that the tattoo fad in the NBA might be fading, some of the most recognizable young stars in the game (John Wall, Brandon Knight, Kenneth Faried, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook) do not have tattoos.
Its a cycle, Cole said. Its a fad like high socks and ankle socks. It comes and it goes.
Miami Herald Executive Sports Editor Jorge Rojas contributed to this report.