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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Patrick Andres

Why the NBA Is Making LaMelo Ball Cover Up His ‘LF’ Neck Tattoo

Through 10 games, Hornets guard LaMelo Ball has been as good as new. The 22-year-old has showed little rust in his return from a Feb. 27 ankle fracture, averaging 22.2 points per game even as Charlotte has slumped to a 3–7 start.

However, Ball's comeback appears to include a battle with a powerful new enemy: the NBA.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and an NBA statement, the league is asking Ball to cover a tattoo below his left ear on the grounds that it violates policies against commercial or corporate logos appearing on players’ bodies. 

Ball’s ink reads “LF,” a nod to his full name—LaMelo LaFrance Ball. He launched a clothing line of the same name in the fall of 2020, shortly before being drafted.

The NBA has made Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball cover up an ‘LF’ logo on his neck, citing rules against players displaying tattoos that feature corporate logos.

Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports

“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,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank told ESPN.

Ball covered the tattoo before the Hornets’ 111–105 loss to the Heat on Tuesday, and per Wojnarowski will do so once again during Charlotte's game against the Bucks Friday evening.

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