Adrian WojnarowskiTop NBA Insider2 min read
The NBA is requiring Charlotte Hornets All-Star guard LaMelo Ball to cover up a tattoo below his left ear, something the league insists violates rules against exposing commercial logos on players’ bodies — a policy that sources close to Ball assert has been implemented infrequently. .
Paul has the initials “LF” tattooed on his body, short for his middle name LaFrance, and now his clothing brand.
The NBA and Ball have been in talks over the past few weeks about the tattoo, and Ball began covering it up before Tuesday’s loss to Miami to avoid league fines, sources told ESPN. He is expected to continue his coverage of Friday night’s championship game against Milwaukee.
The two sides are expected to continue discussing short- and long-term solutions to this issue.
“Depends,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank said in a statement to ESPN [collective bargaining agreement]Players are prohibited from displaying commercial logos or corporate insignia on their bodies or hair during matches. We try to enforce the rule reasonably, according to its purpose, and taking into account players’ efforts to express themselves in a non-commercial manner. But the LaMelo Ball tattoo on his neck is a clear violation of the rule and, therefore, he has to cover it up.”
Ball had a similar tattoo on his left hand, though it was much less noticeable than the new impression under his left ear that caught the league’s attention in the preseason.
Sources said Paul told the NBA that “LF” represents his middle name and the name of a close family member, his uncle. Ball used the initials LF long before it became a trademark.
Ball’s representatives have explained to the NBA that several former players had what could be considered corporate logos on their bodies – including Jordan Brand, Michelin, and Warner Bros. But those players did not have endorsement partnerships with those companies, the NBA responded.
The league asked Ball’s older brother, Lonzo, to cover up his “Big Baller Brand” tattoo in 2018.
Ball was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the 2021 NBA Rookie of the Year, and made his first All-Star team in 2022. He signed a five-year extension in the offseason that could be worth up to $260. million. He is averaging 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 8.6 assists for the Hornets this season.
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