Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chinese Tattoos in the NBA - The Good, The Bad, and The Whack

Since I broke the news about Yao Ming's rock n' roll tattoo a few months back, I've been paying more attention to NBA players' tattoos. Of course it doesn't take too much effort to spot them, since several players feature more ink than a member of the Japanese yakuza. And since the NBA is all about trends, dozens of players feature Chinese character tattoos. And as we shall see, some are good, some are bad, and some are just plain whack.

Allen Iverson - 76ers

Small, reasonably well-done tattoo meaning "loyalty." Nothing special, a very common tattoo in the West.

Jeff McInnis - Bobcats

Two tattoos- right arm is the Chinese translation for "Jeff" and the left arm means "a state of bliss." Bland calligraphy, but otherwise correct.

Marcus Camby - Nuggets

A very large and well-written Chinese phrase meaning "strive for the clan." However, according to Hanzismatter, Camby's "clan" is not real. I think "family" would have been a better choice of words.

Chris Andersen - Hornets

The "Birdman" is famous for his impressive array of tattoos, considering he looks like a stockbroker trying to recapture his punk-rock youth. Buried in the tattoo mess are two Chinese characters on his arms- left arm reads "Good" and right arm says "Bad." However, Andersen's choice for "bad" also means "nausea". I think a simple 好/不好 interplay would have been more appropriate, but maybe not the kind of "bad" Andersen was looking for. Although "nausea" is apparently what he gives many sportswriters who take issue with his abundant ink.

Marquis Daniels - Pacers

Chalk this up to "WTF?" He says it's his initials in Chinese characters, but the more clued-in among us know that there's no such thing as a Chinese alphabet. As far as I can tell, his characters are 康, which means "health," 文 or 女, meaning "knowledge" or "woman," respectively, and the last character isn't even real. It's the cap found on characters such as 宝 or 安, but by itself, it means nothing. Fail.

Shawn Marion - Mavericks

Shawn "The Matrix" Marion thought it would be cool to get his nickname in Chinese on his leg. What he got instead means "Demon Bird Mothballs." *cue spittake*

So what did we learn today kids? When in doubt, ask Yao Ming.


Molly MacCaul said...

This is a really interesting piece of work / comment. Like your blog too.

Anonymous said...

ive been looking everywhere to see if anyone knows chinese! can you help me? i wanna get a tattoo in chinese thats.. loyalty , strength and respect.

马克 said...

Loyalty- 忠诚, Strength- 力量, Respect- 尊敬. Copy these characters and enlarge the fonts so that every stroke is clearly visible. My Chinese wife verified this :-P and I've got a "respect" tattoo as well. Check out my new blog for more China tattoo stuff.

Maria Mcclain said...

Hey Xiamen, you have a very interesting tattoos blog, i will visit ur blog very often, hope u go for this website to increase visitor.Happy Blogging!!!

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me what pride and faith is in chinese symbols?

Patrick Qiu said...

Anonymous said...
Can you tell me what pride and faith is in chinese symbols?

pride (荣耀)or(豪)
faith (信念)or(信)

Patrick Qiu said...

as i chinese i have to say some of those tattoos are no logic, it doesn't mean anything maybe it is just someone's name.

and the explanation of the birdman's tattoos is wrong, 恶 has a meaning which means bad, but when it compares to 好, it should be the "evil"
and “好” means kind.

Patrick Qiu said...

" However, Andersen's choice for "bad" also means "nausea".

actually we won't think about "nausea" when we see the single word “恶” nausea should be “恶心”

and “恶” is still a really cool word in China, when i saw it i just said "awesome!!" so do the "忠“ which on the iverson's body

Anonymous said...

Chris Andersen could have used 好 and 壞, which means good and bad, or 善 and 惡, which means good and evil. Pairing 好 and 惡 sounds a bit odd. I am an American born Chinese, so my Chinese is not perfect. But to me, in Cantonese, 好惡 sounds more like a description of a belligerent person's words and actions. I have a dictionary, though, that says 好惡 could be defined as likes and dislikes, preferences, or taste. I personally haven't heard of this use, but perhaps this is due to regional variations?