The NBA experience is one remembered in ink. According to the exhaustive NBA ink watchdog nbatattoos.tumblr.com, 55 percent of NBA players in 2011-12 had a tat. Knowing the quantity of the NBA’s tattoo love, however, is only half the answer: Who has done it best? There are too many to include on a top 10, be it Brandon Jennings’ Roscoe’s tribute, Rasheed Wallace’s Egyptian depiction or Monta Ellis’ family tree that grows up his torso. They’re all crazy good tats, which gives you an indication of the kind of level these 10 have to raise up to. It’s subjective, of course, meaning downplay how much you’d rock it and give more weight to how well the player does it. Like the game itself, ideas are borrowed and incorporated into everyone’s individual repertoire, meaning you can be sure a list like this will always keep changing.
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10. ANDREI KIRILENKO: Flying Man On A Beast
For the record, in 2011 the Russian said his massive, fairly terrifying, full-back tattoo was not inspired by World of Warcraft. He did say it gave him the idea, the “impetus” for the 30th birthday gift to himself that somehow did not scare his children. Showing an armor-covered knight carrying a shield while holding onto the back of a flying lizard-beast, the work is not my idea of a first tattoo and has no bearing to basketball. Much like Wilson Chandler’s massive “Unstoppable” ink with Juggernaut covering his entire back, its success is one part scale and another part execution, thrown in with a lot of self-confidence. Now that he’s back in the NBA, I can claim this as one of the best tattoos in the game. Most liked? Not a chance. Easily the boldest, best-rendered (it looks like it came out of a Retina-display Mac) and the most talked-about? Absolutely.