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The Strange Saga of LaMelo Ball’s Neck Tattoo Cover-Up

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A bunch of very modern phenomena — public body modification, lifestyle apparel, personal branding, and the policing of corporate bedfellows — has led to an odd situation regarding Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball.

Here’s the deal: Ball’s middle name is LaFrance (which is also his uncle’s name). This past summer, Ball got the stylized initials “LF” tattooed on his neck, to represent his middle name and his uncle’s name. He also launched his own lifestyle apparel brand, called LaFrancé. Its logo is the same design as the neck tattoo, so the NBA has told him that the tattoo violates the league’s policy on visible corporate endorsements of companies that are not official league partners.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the league and Ball had several weeks’ worth of discussions about this before Ball finally gave in and agreed to cover up the tat. The photo at the top of this page is from the Hornets’ game against the Knicks on Nov. 12. That was the last time Ball took the court with the “LF” exposed. Since then, he was played in four games and worn four different-colored bandages to cover up the tattoo:

If nothing else, Ball clearly leads the league in bandage colors. I wonder which are the Icon, Association, Statement, and City bandages? (I guess the City one is the BFBS.)

In a statement made to ESPN, league spokesman Tim Frank said:

“Per the [collective bargaining agreement], players are prohibited from displaying commercial logos or corporate insignia on their body or in their hair during games. 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.”

So will Ball have to keep covering up the tat for the rest of his career? Will he come out with his own line of bandages? Will he get the tattoo removed? Will he change his clothing brand’s logo? Will the clothing brand pay some fee to the league in order to become the Official LaMelo Ball Clothing Partner of the NBA? Will the clothing brand just tank and render the whole controversy moot? Will all of this become a sub-plot in the sequel to Idiocracy?

Charlotte’s next game is tonight, at home against the Wizards. Perhaps some enterprising soul can launch a Bandage Tracker account on Twitter to keep us up to date on this particular corner of the uni-verse.



Too Good for the Ticker

Wow! I hope current Twins hosiery hero Chris Paddack will add those stirrups to his repertoire.

(Big thanks to Jimmy Lonetti and @DubiDubiDubin for this one.)



Your Daily(ish) Dose of Kitten

Sometimes they like to rassle. Although Waffles was the instigator/aggressor this time, sometimes the roles are reversed.



Can of the Day

Seemed like the right can to choose for today.

• • • • •

Happy almost-Thanksgiving. If you’re traveling today, please accept my best wishes for a safe, non-stressful journey. Peace. — Paul

Comments (39)

    Lamelo Ball also has the same tattoo on his hand link
    Doesn’t look like he’s had to cover it up, at least as far as I can tell.

    The NBA’s tiltting at windmills cracking down on a tattoo of an obscure bran that nobody would notice (does *anyone* watch Hornets games to begin with) while destroying their own visual identity with uniform ads and a parade of disposable uniform designs.

    The NBA will next mandate thatt all players get the uniform ad of their team tattooed on each of their necks.

    Actually, a lot of us do not. You MUST have Spectrum cable to access their games. I do not and will not.

    I mean, they made Lamelo’s brother Lonzo cover the BBB tattoo on his arm until he got the Dice cover up. League also had JR Smith cover his Supreme leg tattoo and Iman Shumpurt get rid of the Adidas logo in his hair (which was when adidas had the jersey contract)

    Surprised Nike doesn’t have bandages with the swoosh for this sort of thing. Also, just for fun, do an image search for “Kevin Durant tattoo.” You will not be disappointed.

    Easiest solution would be to change the LaFrance clothing logo so it’s visibly different from his tattoo, enabling him to say that his neck tattoo is just a stylized LF, not a clothing line logo.

    The neck bandage looks ridiculous.

    Anyone else think this tattoo is just an ugly little thing? And being red, I would think that if I saw him in motion or from a distance, it could be mistaken for a trickle of blood from his ear.

    Yes, it is *my* opinion. I merely assessed this particular piece and its particular placement based solely on aesthetics. And everyone’s sense of aesthetics is going to be different. If you thought I was belittling him because of it, I think you were reading into my comment beyond my intent, as I agree it’s his right to get whatever ink he wants (though I would certainly hope he would not want symbols of hate, but that’s another argument, and not really germane to this particular instance).

    Big tattoo guy here, being a part of both the metal and powerlifting community. Lamelo balls tattoos overall make me sad. They are good tattoos. By good tattoos I mean he went to good artists, who put down good lines and they healed well. From a technical standpoint, I want to know who his artist is.
    Aesthetically, they are like if south park was making a parody of the “I am a pro athlete now, I gotta get a bunch of tattoos”. Lots of Massive pieces, with really corny justification for getting them (and IMO, bc I wanted to is a perfectly valid reason for getting inked). but he has “HEEM” and his own logo on himself four times, plus filler flames and clouds everywhere. I am curious if he eventually gets some of these designs covered up

    Big tattoo guy should understand that what anyone gets and why they get it is none of our business.

    When did the NBA institute this rule? I remember Carmelo Anthony’s West Baltimore tattoo looking quite a bit like a Warner Brothers logo.


    It’s in the current collective bargaining agreement, Article XXXVII.4.B. It looks like that provision was not in prior agreements, so only adopted last year. That said, my understanding is the league is primarily looking out for branding that competes with important league partners — i.e. competing apparel companies. It might not care about unrelated (or mostly unrelated) logos, like movie production companies or say, Home Depot.

    The blue and black look like kinesiology tape, aka KTape, which is used for muscular injuries typically.

    Since the selling point of this type of streetwear line is the branding, I doubt they’ll change the logo anytime soon. And since it’s affiliated with Puma, they probably can’t become “official” with a Nike-branded league. My guess is he just keeps wearing that tape (which might be better publicity than the actual tattoo).

    To be fair, they did have Iman Shumpert get rid of the Adidas logo in his hair, despite the league being outfitted by Adidas then

    Some articles from mysteriously showed up in my Uni Watch RSS feed a few minutes ago. There are ten of them, dated 11/11/2021 through 7/26/2023, apparently written by someone named Peter Trahan. Did anyone else see this?

    I manually inspected the feed just now and I don’t see them there, but they are cached in my RSS reader.

    I went down the rabbit hole on that earlier this morning after I first saw the can. Glidden, the paint company, had a foods division starting in 1920 and acquired Durkee in 1929. It gets stranger – in 1967 Glidden merged with SCM Corporation – as in Smith-Corona typewriters. In 1986 SCM was acquired by a food conglomerate holding company who sold the paint business and added Durkee to their portfolio. The Glidden paint business was sold/re-sold a few times and is now part of PPG.

    I’m surprised LaMelo just doesn’t use K-T tape. That probably would adhere better throughout the game. And, I’m sure he could customize with all kinds of different colors if he wished.

    Or, he could just wear a neck gaiter LOL

    I love that Twins’ Wives pic. Do you think they actually played or it was just for publicity? Sorry if this is a dumb question.

    Not a dumb question, but I have no idea! I wonder if other MLB teams had similar squads they would have played. Interesting story idea if Paul wants to chase it down.

    Definitely not a dumb question.

    I bet they actually played — although I’m sure it was just for fun. Definitely a great snapshot in time. I’m not 100% sure it would fly today but it would be fun to see if any of today’s squads would field a wives (or more likely a WAG) team.

    That Twins wives picture is great, it oozes 70s happiness and blissful unawareness of the horrible 80s approaching. As for LaFrance (I expect him to name himself like that in the future, instead of LaMelo) he could cover the tattoo with a band-aid in the colors of the French flag: still promoting the brand without showing the logo.

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