Kyle Kuzma is increasingly covered in tattoos. The Los Angeles Lakers forward hits the court in new ink often, sticking out as a body art aficionado in one of the most tattoo-friendly professions on earth.
Many fans think Kuzma edges out his L.A. competition in terms of the quality and stories behind his tattoos. Kuzma himself agrees. Does his take on the pieces of art adorning his skin hold up to scrutiny? Let’s find out.
Does Kyle Kuzma have the best tattoos on the Lakers?
The Lakers have a lot of competition for who has the best ink on the squad. LeBron James, in particular, is a tattoo fiend who recently revealed his 25th tattoo in honor of the late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. His tattoos are laced with meaning, bolstered by his years of life experience playing in the NBA.
Kuzma makes a different case. Many of his tattoos are newer. They’re often isolated pieces, making them stand out on camera more. His choices — as we’ll get into soon — have serious meaning as often as they signal pure whimsy.
It’s far too subjective to pin down who has the most poignant tattoos on the Lakers. But simply looking at Kuzma’s ink, aesthetically? Few players in the NBA compare.
The inspiration behind the tattoos
Tattoos aren’t as controversial today as they once were. But they are, by their nature, a deep commitment. It takes something of a leap of faith to go from concept to actual ink on skin. So how did Kyle Kuzma make that turn towards permanent imagery on his body?
Inspiration from the NBA greats that came before him. In particular, the ostentatious Allen Iverson. Iverson was bigger than a basketball player. He was a style icon, defining an entire quadrant of the aesthetics of the 2000s.
He didn’t just bring streetwear to the NBA, he created his own looks that filtered out into the general culture. And his tattoo-covered skin was a big part of that aesthetic.
He wasn’t all looks. Iverson is one of the greats of his era. Not so surprising that Kuzma cites his carefree, “I’m gonna be me” aesthetic as a huge inspiration.
What do Kyle Kuzma’s tattoos mean?
The trick to being inspired by a particular player is to avoid biting their style directly. Kyle Kuzma walked that tightrope perfectly with his tattoos. He understood that Allen Iverson’s allure was how authentic and personal his aesthetic was.
Kuzma’s tattoos are his own. They’re a combination of iconic imagery and inscrutable but striking personal statements. These tattoos include many fan favorites.
Perhaps the most meaningful are a collection of clustered symbols, referencing Kuzma’s hometown of Flint, Michigan. It includes a sign for a local interstate, a Ford logo referencing the faded local manufacturing giant, and a large “M” representing Michigan as a whole. As Kuzma tells it, these symbols are imbued with melancholy. He loves his hometown but is heartbroken over the political situation there.
Kuzma also has a woman’s green eye. No face, simply a free-floating eye. It’s a tribute to Kuzma’s mother, who has green eyes.
Another interesting tattoo is an American flag with the letters, “TMC” where the stars normally are. This stands for “The Marathon Continues,” a metaphor for the daily grind of life.
There is a frowning Monopoly Man. At a glance, many people might assume the tattoo is a reference to Kuzma making millions in the NBA. In reality, it’s more personal. The Kuzma family spent long evenings playing through complete games of Monopoly — an uncommon feat, as anyone who has played the game could confirm!
On the fun side of things, Kuzma has a cartoon hand holding a can of something labeled, “Kuz’s Secret Stuff.” This is a reference to the Michael Jordan-led blockbuster Space Jam, with Michael’s name swapped out for Kuz’s.
Kuzma has many more tattoos, and at least a few more coming in his near future. With such an amusing blend of whimsical and meaningful tattoos, it’s hard to think of a Lakers player with a better collection of ink.