Charlotte Hornets star LaMelo Ball has a tattoo of the initials “LF” below his left ear — and the NBA is reportedly forcing him to cover it up.
The initials are short for “LaFrance,” which is Ball’s middle name, his uncle’s name and the name of his clothing brand.
However, the league has a rule that players must not have commercial logos visible on their bodies.
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LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets reacts to a call during the second half of an NBA In-Season Tournament game against the Miami Heat at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday. (David Jensen/Getty Images)
“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. “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.”
LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets looks on during the game against the Detroit Pistons at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 27. (Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
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ESPN reports that Ball and the NBA have spoken over the last several weeks about the tattoo. He first covered it up on Tuesday to avoid being fined by the league, and is expected to do so again on Friday night.
Nothing has been officially resolved just yet, but the two sides will continue to work on both short- and long-term resolutions.
The NBA forced Ball’s older brother, Lonzo, to cover up the family’s “Big Baller Brand” logo that he had inked on him in 2018 when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers.
LaMelo Ball of the Charlotte Hornets dribbles the ball against the Detroit Pistons at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 27. (Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Ball is averaging 22.2 points and 8.6 assists in his 10 contests this season. The third pick of the 2020 NBA Draft signed a five-year extension this past offseason that could be worth $260 million.
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