It started with Dennis Rodman.
It gained popularity with Allen Iverson.
Now it seems that tattoos in the NBA have become the standard rather than the exception. Some teams, such as Cleveland Cavaliers or Denver Nuggets, are so heavily inked that sometimes the games can look more like pick-up skirmishes in the prison yard rather than megastars dueling it out on primetime TV. I’m all for public exposure and acceptance of tattoos, but the gangsta-inclined tattoo trend in the NBA has reached almost ludicrous proportions. It seems that the only demographic maintaining virgin skin are foreign-born ballers, most of whom are from Eastern European countries, as well as a few highly visible Chinese athletes. Well, the needle-thin curtain has come down.
Yao Ming has gotten a tattoo.
He addressed the topic of his indelible artwork the other night on ESPN: “I know that tattoos have long been a controversial subject in most of the world and especially in my native China, but my decision to receive a tattoo was purely a personal one and not as a result of the desire to rebel against my culture.”
Perhaps even more surprising than Yao’s decision to get inked is his choice of subject matter: a scowling portrait of Ozzy Osbourne. Yao confessed to being a long-time Black Sabbath fan and admitted that the famed Sabbath doom-and-gloom rocker “Iron Man” gets him “pumped up in the locker room before each game.” Ozzy was the “natural choice” since he has “inspired [Yao] to be the best I can be ever since I got my first [Sabbath] CD from a small CD shop in Shanghai fifteen years ago.”
Yao’s tattoo was inscribed during the last week of the NBA regular season during a foray down Sunset Strip during an off-day before meeting the Lakers the following evening. He confessed his decision to get that tattoo was “maybe a little” inspired by a dare from fellow teammate Tracy McGrady, who reportedly called Yao a “chicken” for having no tattoos, presumably an assumption about Yao’s tolerance for pain. To silence McGrady’s jests, Yao marched into the Pirate Whore Tattoo Parlor and was promptly inked with the dove-decapitating frontman’s likeness.
Asked for comment, Milwaukee Bucks forward and fellow Chinese compatriot Yi Jian Lian offered Yao his “congratulations on providing yet another example of China conforming to Western aesthetic standards.”
-The Associated Prezz