Headbands & Tattoos

(Editor’s Note: GrowthPlates welcomes new contributor (and actual basketball journalist) Kellan White to our humble corner of the interwebs. So moved by ecstatic potentials of this 76ers team he has ended his period of J.D. Salinger-esque literary seclusion to bring further thoughts on the the back to back whoopings recieved by the Sixers in the last 48 hours)


Never in the history of the NBA has it been acceptable to lose to a team who boast rookies who are 28 and 35 years old.  Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, Rasheed Wallace, and Marcus Camby were all in the NBA before Jrue Holiday was in Elementary School, yet we were ran off the court two nights in a row.

Making matters worse, sprinkled in with the retirement home known as the NYK bench, we have players notorious for either being inept on Offense (here’s looking at you Tyson Chandler) or allergic to defense (nod to Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith). NBA historians will confirm this is officially the first time since they started playing basketball that Jr. Smith and Carmelo Anthony looked engaged on defense for two nights in a row.  This abnormality jarred me from my basketball journalism retirement and forced me to launch a full scale investigation on how this tragedy occurred two nights in a row.

My first theory was drawn from the fact that the New York Knicks are tied for the most straight from HS contributors in the NBA. Maybe it is the rebellious youth who refused to be held back by the rigors of the NCAA that make the Knicks so dangerous. Their loose style of play suited for the great Rucker’s Park was never stolen from them by the evil coaches of the NCAA such as Roy Williams, Coach K and Coach Calipari. They jump higher and shoot more threes because no one told them that highlights took away from a team concept. Surely JR Smith ridiculous dunk on the entire city of Philadelphia last night (Here, if you missed it) was a result of never stepping foot onto Chapel Hill’s campus. Though this theory is entertaining and would make Commissioner David Stern wet his pants, it is completely and utterly false. Why? Because the team tied with the New York Knicks for most high schoolers is…..the Philadelphia 76ers!  Maybe when Andrew Bynum gets over Matt Geiger syndrome or when Kwame Brown stops having flashbacks from Doug Collins coaching him in Washington we will have a sudden injection HS luck but then again Robert Swift, Jonathan Bender, and Darius Miles wouldn’t have won many NBA games as a starting Front Court.

The thought of Darius Miles and Robert Swift teaming up led me to the only conclusion of why the Sixers were run out of the building by the Knicks twice…..Headbands and Tattoos. Yes something as trivial as a band of cloth to keep sweat out of your eyes and being inked up can mean the difference between winning and losing trivial regular season games that everyone is going to forget when the Knicks flame out because Amare can’t spell defense. The Knicks very well might have the league lead for most Tattoo Sleeves and Neck Tattoos on a single team. (Kenyon Martin’s free agency puts this lead in danger) Sure there are some Knicks who are apparently tattooless (though I have a working theory that Steve Novak has thug life tattooed across his stomach) but JR Smith Alone has enough tattoos to more than cover his teammates. (Last count for Jr. Smith was allegedly 48 tattoos but that was 2 years ago).


JR Smith rocks his tattoos with pride leaving no part of his neck uncovered, the 76ers resident tattooed shooter Nick Young has his Swaggy P tat tastefully covered by his jersey.  Last night Swaggy P +/- was -10, JR Smith was +15.  JR Smith has Swish Tattooed on his neck, Swaggy P does not. Coincidence? I think not!  All of the Knicks best players have tattoo sleeves, Carmelo Reps Baltimore on his arm, Chandler Rocks Compton and the aforementioned JR Smith reps everyone from his mother to young money to black Jesus. Compounding their ink power, is the team unity of rocking headbands. Melo has always been about the headband since Syracuse, but Tyson Chandler and Corey Brewer were never known for Headbands but they have followed Melo and joined the fun. The team’s hot shooting can be contributed to both the lack of sweat in their eyes and the fact that JR Smith’s neck says SWISH!

I know it has only been two games and eventually their age will catch up with them but there is compelling evidence all over the NBA for this theory.   Fact: in 2010 Jason Terry got a tattoo of the NBA Championship trophy shortly before the season and low and behold they won the trophy during the 2010-2011 season (he also wears headbands). Fact: Us basketball fans obsess over Kobe chasing his sixth ring like Jordan but you know who he is currently tied with? Dennis Rodman. You know what Dennis Rodman has lots of? Tattoos. The most compelling evidence for the Sixer fan base is the prodigal son of Philadelphia, Allen Iverson.

We enjoyed the most successful era of 76er basketball of my lifetime while the Answer was breaking ankles in the Wachovia, First Union and CoreState Center.  His headbands and tattoos started a cultural revolution. He crossed over the headband-less Jordan and he embarrassed Tyrone Lue’s ink in the NBA finals. He inspired a city and even inspired our wonderful mascot HIP HOP! (ok not everything he did was great). Most people would agree Iverson was one of the only draft picks we didn’t blow.


Historically we have avoided tattoos and headbands in the draft. We selected Jerry Stackhouse over hometown hero Rasheed Wallace. We drafted the comically tall Shawn Bradley over Penny Hardaway. We picked Keith Van Horn over Tracy McGrady, Larry Hughes over Sixer Killer Paul Pierce and most recently Freaking Meeker (Evan Turner) over DeMarcus Cousins.  We are left with a team that has few tattoo sleeves and virtually no neck tattoos. Jrue Holiday isn’t old enough to get a tattoo without his parents’ permission, Thad Young is clean enough to get buried in a Jewish cemetery and Evan Turner is well Evan Turner. Luckily our problems are solvable. Step One: Hire a Tattoo artist. This is Philadelphia we have more neck tattoos per capita than any other city in the United States, our basketball team should reflect that. Nick Young is not an acceptable tattoo leader; none of his tattoos are visible in a basketball jersey. While I would normally applaud a person for not getting face and neck tattoos, if it is what needs to happen for us to win meaningless games against the Knicks then so be it.  We need to make a permission slip for Mrs. Holiday to sign and we need to add some tear drops to Evan Turner’s face (maybe then he will be able to make it rain with jumpers). Lastly we need Spencer Hawes to go all Robert Swift and Chris Andersen and get trashy colored tattoo sleeves immediately. If he does this I will pull my petition to have him cut his mullet.

History shows us that if Doug Collins makes these simple changes and the 76ers will win meaningless games in the beginning of the season and have the Sixer Bandwagon Full Again.


(Editor’s note: Spencer Hawes Mullet/Mustache combination seems to imply he has embraced Passyunk Ave. hispsterdom. Could a tattoo sleeve and fixed gear bike be far behind? Maybe… this one?

 But then I found about Hawes’ ardent denial of global warming. And… this picture…

 So maybe that’s not a hip South Philly Mullett/Mustache and just a regular old redneck Mullett/Mustache.)


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