- Gregory Shamus/Getty
- In August, J.R. Smith got a tattoo of the “Supreme” logo on his calf.
- Smith announced that the NBA informed him that they would fine him for every game he played with the logo visible.
- Supreme is a clothing line that started as a skateboarding and counter-culture brand, and players are prohibited from displaying logos that are not corporate partners with the league.
- Players with logos in their hair or tattoos have been an issue before in the NBA, but some players play with corporate ink without issue.
A new tattoo that Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith added during the offseason could wind up forcing him to start wearing a compression sleeve for the rest of his NBA career.
The tattoo in question, which depicts the logo of the clothing brand “Supreme” down Smith’s calf, was revealed to his Instagram followers in early August.
While NBA players getting tattoos is nothing new, the league has made an issue of Smith promoting a brand with his body.
In an Instagram post published on Saturday, Smith said the NBA informed him that he’d be fined for every game he played with his new ink showing.
League spokesman Mike Bass told ESPN in a statement, “NBA rules prohibit players from displaying any commercial logos or corporate insignia on their body or in their hair.”
It’s an issue that has come up, however sparingly in the past – Smith’s former teammate Iman Shumpert was once forced to remove an Adidas logo that he had shaved into his high-top fade.
Typically, the NBA has not allowed the use of logos that are not representing corporate partners (e.g., Jordan Brand’s Jumpman logo is permitted). However, ESPN noted that other players in the league have tattoos of logos not related to the NBA that go uncontested, including Kyrie Irving, who has the logo of the television show “Friends” and Carmelo Anthony, who sports the Warner Brothers’ “WB” logo.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Smith plans to “have conversations with the league” about the situation.
Those conversations will have to happen soon though, and if they don’t go his way, Smith might be wearing a leg sleeve for the rest of his NBA career.
The Cavaliers open the season on October 17 against the Toronto Raptors.