LaMelo Ball’s neck tattoo is too much on the minds of NBA executives. League executives assert that his “LF” neck tattoo, an abbreviation of his middle name, LaFrancé, violates NBA policy. Given that LaMelo Ball has his own lifestyle fashion brand, LaFrancé, NBA executives interpret the tattoo as part of his commercial brand and not his middle name. NBA policy doesn’t permit players to display commercial logos on their bodies.
However, NBA executives infrequently enforce this policy.
LaMelo Ball’s neck tattoo
LaMelo and his representatives continue to discuss short-term and long-term resolutions to this issue. In a statement to Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN’s Senior NBA Insider, Tim Frank, NBA spokesperson, said, “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.”
How can Melo’s neck tattoo be an “obvious violation of the rule”? “LF” is an abbreviation of his middle name. Are we to read the language of the collective bargaining agreement to be biased toward his middle name? NBA executives assume that Ball’s neck tattoo pertains to his company. Therefore, they have elected to read it as not a display of personal identity but as a commercial display. That’s too much unfair assuming and intrusive policing of his body.
LaMelo Ball’s neck tattoo allows him to demonstrate he can use an attempt to restrict his First Amendment right of free expression to express himself skillfully. Melo has so much swag that he employs colored bandages to coordinate with the team’s uniforms. His company aims to help others to make fashion statements. The colorful bandages covering Ball’s neck tattoo ironically function to highlight NBA executives’ violations of his First Amendment rights and egregious policing of his body.
NBA executives can expect a passionate fight against their efforts to deprive LaMelo Ball of his First Amendment rights. Their targeting of Ball raises serious questions of bias.