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NBA reverses rule requiring LaMelo Ball to cover his tattoo during games

The league has flip-flopped on a rule determined by the CBA

San Antonio Spurs v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Last Friday the Spurs hosted the Charlotte Hornets. The game was LaMelo Ball’s return after missing in action since obtaining and ankle injury in late November.

At the start of the game, the 2021 Rookie of the Year sported a bandage covering a tattoo behind his left ear. The inked “LF,” which represents his middle name LaFrance, violated the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement because his middle name (and the logo) double as the name of his clothing line. The CBA prohibits players from displaying logos.

In a statement last November, NBA spokesman Tim Frank said:

“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.”

In San Antonio, the bandage came off, or was otherwise removed, early in the contest and never replaced.

Jack Maloney reported Ball was not fined for leaving the tattoo revealed.

Later in the week, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the league reversed the decision allowing Ball to play with his tattoo uncovered going forward.

No specific reason was given for the change of policy.


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