TATTED UP IN THE NBA

By By Eric D.Graham, BASN Columnist
Updated: May 7, 2011

Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman

NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — At one time, getting a tattoo was a sign that you were a Rebel, a Bad Boy, or an Outlaw.

As a result, this rare form of body art that was once only seen on the arms or biceps of Marines, bikers, or Rock-n-Roll stars, are now seen everywhere.

And on everybody. They definitely are all over the body of Jesse James’ mistress Michelle “Bombshell” McGee.

They are also above the “booty” of all of those exotic dancers (or should I say strippers) at Magic City in Atlanta. (Don’t ask me, how I know.)

They are on the arm of Kobe Bryant. Lamar Odom’s hands.Gilbert Arenas’ fingers.

The chest of Lebron James. The stomach of Bobcats’ Steven Jackson. The legs of Dallas’ Shawn Marion. They are across the back of Orlando’s Jameer Nelson.

On the neck of the Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin (Haven’t you seen those stupid big red lips?)

On the head of Stephen Marbury. That’s correct, I said his head.

And even on the face of boxer Mike Tyson. But with so many people as well as athletes decorating their bodies with this permanent ink, why has tattooing become so main stream?

Is it a result of Gang-Culture? The Prison Industrial Complex? Hip-Hop music?

Or TV programs like TLC’s “LA Ink”? This is a very tough question to answer.

But has this tattooing phenomenon gone too far? And should NBA Commissioner David Stern be concern with all of these tatted up athletes?

Because according to some reports, over 70% of the NBA has tattoos. Most noticeable are Carmelo Anthony (Knicks), Allen Iverson (ex-76ers), J.R.Smith (Nuggets) Deshawn Stevenson (Mavericks), Delonte West (Celtics), Matt Barnes (Lakers) and Christopher “Birdman” Andersen (Nuggets), who actually is transforming into a bird right in front of our eyes.

Comedically, I blame Dennis Rodman, the original tattoo bandit for all of this mess adorning all of these athletes. But shockingly, the popularity of tattoos goes far beyond a few million dollar athletes and Dennis Rodman.

Because tattooing of one’s body has always been a cultural norm amongst “the original” people since the beginning of time. Whether in Africa, India, Thailand, Indonesia, South and Central America, Hawaii, New Zealand or the Pacific Islands.

In fact, it was the ancient Egyptians or Kemitans, who spread the practice of tattooing throughout the world which later influenced the Chinese and Japanese master tattoo artists.

Ironically, however it was only until Native American tribes like the Chickasaw, Creek, Choctaw, and Cherokee and the Mayans in Mexico, came in contact with Spanish conquistadors and European missionaries that we started to consider this ancient and sacred body art, evil or works of “Satan.”

The arrival of the Christian church, in fact demonize these permanent marks of distinction that communicated status, military memory, lines of descent and tribal affiliation by utilizing the King James Version of the Bible and a scripture from the book of Leviticus (19:28) which reads: ‘ye shall not make any cutting on the flesh for the dead nor print any marks upon you.’

This Christian disapproval and logic has made getting tattoos a sin in most parts of the African-American community especially amongst churchgoers despite their historical significance.

So the next time, you see a young high school kid in the mall, a NBA basketball player, a rapper, or just an “ordinary” person with a tattoo, don’t roll your eyes in disgust. Just remember, they are only practicing an ancient art form started by our ancestors that has lasted a lifetime.

But, I’m sorry, because I am still not getting one on my arm.