NBA requires LaMelo Ball to cover up tattoo on neck during games

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Charlotte Hornets

LaMelo Ball has the initials “LF” — for his middle name LaFrance — tattooed on his neck.

That is also the name of his clothing brand, which is why the NBA has required Ball to cover up the tattoo during games, based on its rule about promoting commercial brands through tattoos, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The NBA and Ball have had conversations over the past several weeks regarding the tattoo, and Ball began covering it up prior to Tuesday’s loss to Miami to avoid league fines, sources told ESPN. He also had it covered for Friday night’s in-season tournament game against Milwaukee.

In a statement to ESPN, 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.”

Ball and his representatives argue that the league inconsistently enforces this rule — he also has an LF tattoo on his hand, but that one is not as easily seen during a game. While other players have corporate logo tattoos, the league argues those players do not have endorsement contracts with those companies (Ball obviously benefits from the sale of his clothing brand’s merchandise).

It doesn’t sound like this discussion is done — and you can be sure Andre Iguodala and the players’ union will input here — but for now Ball has his tattoo covered up during games.

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