NBA tells J.R. Smith he must cover Supreme brand tattoo on leg; he’s pissed

Via Instagram

Cleveland’s J.R. Smith is a committed member or team Supreme, the New York-based clothing brand that started as a skateboarding shop with clothing and has expanded well beyond that market into popular culture.

How committed is Smith? This summer he got the brand’s logo tattooed down the back of his right calf.

It’s nice work. However, not everybody likes it — specifically, the suits in the NBA’s league office who are very particular about advertising and marketing with the league (and making sure the league gets its cut). A league spokesman told NBC Sports:

“NBA rules prohibit players from displaying any commercial logos or corporate insignia on their body or in their hair.”

The tattoo violates that policy.

Smith said the league has reached out to him and told him to cover it up. And he is pissed.

Smith just wanted some ink from a company he supports, but for the league this is a delicate business balance — Goodyear pays a lot of money to have their logo on the front of Smith’s Cavaliers’ jersey. Uber, Fresh Brewed Teas, BBVA, Beats by Dre and other companies pay a lot of money to partner with/sponsor the NBA as a whole and individual teams specifically. From the league’s perspective, now here’s a company getting nightly free publicity through a player. The league saw the potential problem, which is why the rule blocking it has long been in place.

The sides will reach some kind of deal/compromise, but you can bet Smith is not going to like it.