The NBA has told Charlotte Hornets guard LaMelo Ball that he must cover up a tattoo on his neck that violates the league's policies regarding the display of corporate logos, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Ball first covered the tattoo before the team's game on Nov. 14 against the Miami Heat, and is expected to continue doing so moving forward to avoid fines.
A red 'LF' under Ball's left ear is the tattoo in question. The initials stand for LaFrance, which is not only his middle name but the name of his lifestyle fashion brand, which he launched in 2020. Ball has a similar tattoo on his left hand, though it is not as obvious as the one on his neck. You can see the tattoo here, as well as the covering he used.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank released a statement to ESPN on the matter:
"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's camp claims that the league rule regarding the matter has been inconsistently enforced and that the initials have been important to him before the launch of his "LaFrance" brand. Ironically, one of the other times that the league did use the rule came in 2018, when Lonzo Ball, LaMelo's older brother, was required to cover up a "Big Baller Brand" tattoo.
Lonzo eventually settled the matter by. It's unclear what is LaMelo's situation. For now, he will continue to cover it during games, but per Wojnarowski, both parties have been discussing a long-term solution.
Entering Friday's games, Ball is averaging 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and a career-high 8.6 assists per game for a Hornets team that is once again near the bottom of the standings at 3-7.