This Is Why LeBron James’ Tattoos Were at the Center of a Lawsuit

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LeBron James tattoos

LeBron James, being the wealthy and polarizing figure that he is, always seems to be in the news in some way. On occasions, James even finds himself involved in lawsuits. Just a couple of weeks ago, a photographer sued James for posting a photo of himself on Facebook. Now, while James himself was not involved in a lawsuit that recently concluded his tattoos were. Here is why there was a lawsuit over LeBron James’ tattoos.

A tattoo company filed a lawsuit over LeBron James’ tattoos

LeBron James tattoos
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a play against the Philadelphia 76ers. | Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Solid Oak Sketches holds licenses for tattoos on a handful of players in the NBA. However, the company sued Take-Two Interactive Software, the makers of NBA 2K, because NBA 2K16 showed Solid Oak Sketches’ tattoo designs on players.

The New York federal court filing looked at three of LeBron James’ tattoos that the game showed, according to the New York Post. The tattoos are named, “Child Portrait, “330 and Flames” and “Script with a Scroll, Clouds and Doves.”

The lawsuit also fought over a tattoo on Kenyon Martin and one on Eric Bledsoe. 

Take-Two argued that the tattoos were fair use as they were part of the athletes’ likenesses. 

What was the final decision?

Last week, a Manhattan federal judge Laura Swain dismissed the case. She noted that “only 0.000286% to 0.000431% of the NBA 2K game data is devoted to the Tattoos,” according to the New York Post. Swain also sided with Take-Two’s argument that the tattoos were fair use because they were part of the players’ likenesses. She also noted that the tattoo artists knew the tattoos would “appear in public, on television, in commercials, or in other forms of media, like video games.”

“The tattoos only appear on the players upon whom they are inked, which is just three out of over 400 available players,” Swain said in a statement, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “The undisputed factual record shows that average game play is unlikely to include the players with the Tattoos and that, even when such players are included, the display of the tattoos is small and indistinct, appearing as rapidly moving visual features of rapidly moving figures in groups of player figures. Furthermore, the tattoos are not featured on any of the game’s marketing materials.”

Judge Laura Swain

This means we could potentially see James’ tattoos on future NBA 2K games. 

James and the NBA wait through suspended season

This lawsuit was some of the biggest news from the NBA as of late with the league suspending its season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. The NCAA followed suit the day after by canceling its college basketball tournaments. The NCAA also canceled remaining winter and spring sports championships while the MLB canceled the rest of spring training and delayed Opening Day. Additionally, the International Olympic Committee postponed the 2020 Olympics until 2021.

There is no timetable for when the NBA season can return if it will return at all. However, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said on ESPN on March 18 that the league is looking at a few possible scenarios for when the season is able to resume. He also said that he isn’t ready to think the league will have to cancel its season.

James and the Los Angeles Lakers were the No. 1 team in the Western Conference with a 49-14 record before the league suspended the season. James was also one of the top two candidates for the league’s MVP award. On the season, James was averaging 25.7 points per game, 10.6 assists, and 7.9 rebounds. 

Hopefully, James – and his tattoos – will be back on the basketball court soon.