Charlotte Hornets

Why Hornets' LaMelo Ball is covering up his neck tattoo during games

The NBA says Ball's neck tattoo violates a rule prohibiting players from promoting commercial logos on their bodies

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LaMelo Ball is building his brand on the court. However, the NBA has stepped in to limit just how far he can go to promote his business.

The Charlotte Hornets star has been covering an “LF” tattoo below his left ear during recent games. The initials are short for his middle name, LaFrance, and also the name of his clothing brand.

The NBA prohibits players from displaying commercial logos on their bodies during games. 

Ball had conversations with the league about the tattoo and started covering it up prior to Tuesday’s game against the Miami Heat to avoid fines, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. He also reported that Ball’s camp contends that the league’s rule is not strictly enforced.

“Per the [collective bargaining agreement], players are prohibited from displaying commercial logos or corporate insignia on their body or in their hair during games,” NBA spokesperson Tim Frank said in a statement to ESPN. “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 has a similar “LF” tattoo on his right hand that has not been covered.

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks keeps the ball away from LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets in the third quarter during an NBA In-Season Tournament game at Spectrum Center on Nov. 17, 2023, in Charlotte. Credit: Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

This marks the second time a Ball brother has encountered the rule. Lonzo Ball was required to cover a “Big Baller Brand” tattoo in 2018 while he was with the Los Angeles Lakers.

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