Silk Flowers’ Ethan Swan documents NBA tattoos

Derek Evers

Mike Bibby NBA tattoo

One of Mike Bibby's tattoos

Anyone who is an avid sports fan is a secret math nerd at heart. Every sport is filled with more stats than any human needs to know, often times made up just to fit the criteria at hand (Albert Pujols has the most home runs on the 13th day of any month in MLB history*). Algorithms and pie charts are usually involved, and to this day no human can explain the BCS Bowl system, which needs a computer to calculate the results. And that’s why we need people like Silk Flowers’ Ethan Swan to do the dirty work; so we can arrive armed with some trivial knowledge to share at the local watering hole.

After reading a stat that more than 70% of NBA players had tattoos in 2003 (see? no one needs to know that) and realizing an answer for today’s NBA wasn’t readily available, Ethan took it upon himself to find out the rate at which current NBA players are tattooed. He set up an NBA Tattoos Tumblr page to document his work, and set about calculating professional basketball tattoos. Having gone through and examined all 433 players in the league as of the end of the 2010-11 season, Swan determined an overall figure that is a bit lower than the apparent 70% eight years ago. He’s even gone so far as to break down the results by division, team, and country of origin. And as he tell us, “Now that the main bulk of that research is done, I can start getting into the weirdness, which should happen on a pretty regular basis.”

Though he admits his research is purely anecdotal, noting that it’s very likely some players have tattoos that are hidden from plain view, it’s actually a very interesting read. It’s at least a good enough stat that we’re sure it will make it to a radio talk show, or dare we say, the NBA Inside Stuff? Can’t you just see Ahmad Rashad doing a profile piece on this?

I’ve refrained from telling you any of the results in the hope you’ll jump over to his page to take it all in, but I will give you this one spoiler: 100% of the players from Iran have tattoos.

*I completely made up this stat, but if anyone knows the answer to who has the most home runs on the 13th day of any month, please e-mail me here with the results. And if you’ve just started a Tumblr to document it, I get 20%.

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