December 4, 2023

NBA says Hornets’ LaMelo Ball must cover ‘LF’ tattoo, cites policy

The NBA is requiring Charlotte Hornets All-Star guard LaMelo Ball to cover a tattoo under his left ear that the league insists violates guidelines towards exposing business logos on gamers’ our bodies — a policy that sources near Ball contend has been sometimes enforced.

Ball has the initials “LF” tattooed on his physique, quick for LaFrance — his center title, and now, his clothes model.

The NBA and Ball have had conversations over the previous a number of weeks concerning the tattoo, and Ball started protecting it up previous to Tuesday’s loss to Miami to keep away from league fines, sources advised ESPN. He’s anticipated to proceed protecting it up for Friday night time’s in-season event recreation towards Milwaukee.

The sides are anticipated to maintain discussing short- and long-term resolutions to the problem.

In a press release to ESPN, NBA spokesman Tim Frank mentioned: “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.”

Ball has had an identical tattoo on his left hand, though it was far much less conspicuous than the brand new impression underneath his left ear that caught the league’s consideration within the preseason.

Ball has knowledgeable the NBA that the “LF” represents his personal center title, and that of a detailed member of the family, his uncle, sources mentioned. Ball had used the LF initials lengthy earlier than it turned a model.

Ball’s reps have made the case to the NBA that a number of previous gamers have had what can be thought of company logos on their our bodies — together with for Jordan Brand, Michelin and Warner Brothers. Those gamers, although, didn’t have endorsement partnerships with these firms, the NBA countered.

The league did require Ball’s older brother Lonzo to cover a “Big Baller Brand” tattoo in 2018.

Ball was the No. 3 total choose within the 2020 NBA draft, the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year and made his first All-Star crew in 2022. He signed a five-year extension within the offseason that might be price as a lot as $260 million. He’s averaging 22.2 factors, 5.4 rebounds and eight.6 assists for the Hornets this season.