Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
Blog Entry

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

Posted on: July 24, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 2:34 pm
 
Posted by Royce Young



Maybe you don't remember the old Canon Andre Agassi commercials. But I'm sure you remember the tagline. Image is everything.

Sure, it was just a clever way to tie in high-quality pictures with a tennis star who had quite a rebellious, care-free image, but that idea lives on. Especially with high-profile athletes. Marketing, branding, visibility, likability -- all that crap is essentially what leads to more money. The more people like you, the more people trust you. So when you endorse a product, whether it be a brand or even yourself, appearance and image, are what matter.

And nobody in the NBA has a more squeaky-clean image than Kevin Durant. He's a superstar, but one that's humble, soft-spoken, team-oriented, committed, loyal and basically 50 other words describing how good a dude he is. He caught a lot of attention when he sheepishly announced his grand five-year max extension with the Thunder while LeBron was prepping for a one-hour special, but it goes back a lot farther than that. He would run the scoreboard in college at Texas during intramural games. He plays video games with neighborhood kids. He signs every autograph. He introduces himself as you wouldn't know who he was. "Hi, I'm Kevin." I mean, we're talking about a global basketball superstar that has two straight scoring titles, was the second-leading vote-getter in the West last season and one of the most visible and brightest stars in the league.

So in terms of image, Durant has about as good a one as you can get. I think you'd have a better chance of finding the Holy Grail than finding someone with a bad word about KD. You know a guy is solid when other fan bases say things like, "Yeah, I can't hate KD. He's just too awesome."

Which is why you might be surprised to know that picture up top is actually of Durant. A lot of people were stunned to see the clean-cut, humble dude from conservative Oklahoma City so inked up. As a result, it started a minor frenzy. Virtually every major blog has picked up the photo of Durant standing in China with his shirt off and subsequently shocked the masses by what was revealed: Kevin Durant has tattoos. Not just one, either. Lots of them.

But what caught so much attention isn't the fact that he has them. It's where he has them. Not on his arms. Not on his neck. Not on his wrist, leg or shoulder. KD only has tattoos on his chest. Almost in a comical square pattern. Almost like he has them there so that they'll stay covered up when he's wearing, you know, a basketball jersey.

Some have wondered: Is this just KD maintaining his image?

Potentially. And if so, you kind of have to respect that self-awareness of his image and brand.

I understand that with tattoos, along comes a certain perception of the person getting them. Especially when they come in excess as in Durant's case. It's a pathetic stereotype, but there's a certain thinking that if a person has a bunch of tattoos, that must say something about who they are, something about their character. You didn't see a bunch of ink all over Martin Luther King Jr. or the Dali Lama. Obviously, that's silly, but that type of idea is unavoidable.

Which is why some have figured that Durant is trying to have the best of both worlds with his tattoos. Keep up that sharp-dressed-man look on the court with clean arms, but have his ink hidden underneath where it would only be seen if for some reason the NBA went shirts versus skins.

I get that theory. It makes sense. But it shouldn't matter. Durant got the tattoos because he wanted them. He had them put on his chest because that's where he wanted them. And if he wants one on his shoulder or arm, he'll get it. Durant is always, always himself. The image people have of him is great, but he's not trying to live up to that. He's not changing who he is just to try and be the person we all think he is or should be. He's simply just going to be him. If some ink on his skin changes the way someone looks at him as a brand, a role model or a player, I think that says a lot more about the person than it does about Durant.

The entire Thunder team has sort of been branded as this choir-boy bunch of kids that say yes ma'am and no sir while having no piercings or nasty body art. Maybe that's because it really fits the conservative nature of Oklahoma and people ate up the fact that the players adhered more to weird community social standards than to the perceived "thug life" of the NBA. With Durant being the face of the franchise, everything fell in step behind him.

But if he has ink, what does that say about the perfect little Thunder? Can we not root for that team now? Should fans not love them as much? Do we tell kids in school not to be like them now? I mean, really, how stupid is it that all of this is because of some ink on a guy's skin?

There is a line and even David Stern acknowledged it when he instituted the dress code a few years ago. There's a certain level of professionalism that has to be upheld for the general public to be able to be to connect with players. It's a touchy area, but understandable. I suppose you could apply those same principles to Durant and his ink, but what does it matter?

A lot of stars have tattoos all over their bodies. Kobe and LeBron have clearly visible ink. Some players don't -- like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Most would've had Durant in that category, too. But does now seeing him inked really change anything? And more importantly, should it?

Ink is ink, a player is a player and most importantly, a person is a person. All three aren't necessarily related.


Comments

Since: Jun 17, 2008
Posted on: July 24, 2011 6:21 pm
 

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

And if the "bozo" comment was any way directed towards me. Let me say that I don't eat twinkies, nor donuts. And I know how to spell genetics. There seems to be only one bozo here... and he can't spell. Have a great day. 



Since: Jun 17, 2008
Posted on: July 24, 2011 6:15 pm
 

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

You're absolutely right. It works for him. But as a competitive professional, do you not want every possible advantage that you can gain? Imagine the improvement in his post game if he were to work on his upper body strength. Fact is, he's still young. Did a player like Jermaine O'Neal have the massive arms that he has when he came into the league? I'm thinking not. It takes a lot of work in the gym. You can not deny that KD could use to put on a little more muscle and it would help his game... which doesn't really need much help as is. 



Since: Sep 9, 2006
Posted on: July 24, 2011 6:10 pm
 

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

Some of you guys are ridiculous. Us slender long people never catch a break. It's always hit the gym get bigger (although we run faster jump higher, have better stamina, more quickness) Not much is going to happen if he hits the gym. You think he'll bulk up? He'll havta stack up on the donuts and twinkies like the rest of you bozos for that. It's gynetics (sp?) I'm the same way. Why in the world would he need more upper body strength for his play style? This is the same man that carried the USA to a gold in the Worlds last year?



Since: Jun 17, 2008
Posted on: July 24, 2011 5:48 pm
 

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

The only thing this photo tells me is that KD needs to be in a gym 24/7. If he had half the upper body strength that Kobe or LeBron have, he'd absolutely destroy the league... more so than what he's doing now. My upper torso looks more defined, albeit with more fat than KD has. I hardly ever work out and work in a hardware store... playing pick-up games at best. KD... get in the gym! You're a stick!



Since: Sep 26, 2006
Posted on: July 24, 2011 5:35 pm
 

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

Wait? Did you even look at those tats? Hardly the tats of a thug. I mean the vast majority of the ink has something to do with his faith. This isn't flaming skulls or eerie serpents and it certainly isn't a naked chick. I'd like to see a little more consistency from you guys, the same guys who critiqued him for wielding a Bible in public. I mean, the guy can't seem to catch a break no matter what he does.

He's confident in his beliefs and they are clearly a big part of his life. But he's also sensitive to others--it may be as simple as showing respect to a grandmother who is heavily sensitive about the issue. Sure, the branding part has paid off, but having well placed tats by a teenager is more likely due to respect for others than ingenious forsight regarding branding. 



Since: Sep 21, 2006
Posted on: July 24, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

"The entire Thunder team has sort of been branded as this choir-boy bunch of kids that say yes ma'am and no sir while having no piercings or nasty body art. Maybe that's because it really fits the conservative nature of Oklahoma and people ate up the fact that the players adhered more to weird community social standards than to the perceived "thug life" of the NBA. With Durant being the face of the franchise, everything fell in step behind him."


The author of this article is a D1ck.  The conservative and moral standards of OKC are not "Weird community social standards".......except maybe to an idiot who actually thinks that the "Thug life" of the NBA is just a "perceived" problem rather than the real problem that it actually is.  And those of us who live in OK don't have to eat up anything, the actions of people like Kevin Durant and the rest of the Thunder team speak for themselves, they are class acts, unlike the turd who wrote this article.



Since: Sep 10, 2009
Posted on: July 24, 2011 4:28 pm
 

Image is everything: On tattoos and perception

Imagine how great Durant would be if he took up a strength program.  I would cover that up too.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com