The tat is out of the bag.
Kevin Durant is not who you thought he was.
The Oklahoma City Thunder star with the squeaky clean image is tatted up.
That's right, Durant has tattoos — lots of them.
But even Durant's biggest fans are learning, along with the rest of the basketball world, that Durant's torso is filled with ink.
A picture of a shirtless Durant during his most recent visit to China is making the rounds on the Internet. The image, showing a sweaty Durant standing with both hands on his hips, reveals just about all of the two-time scoring champ's tats. They cover his entire chest and stomach, stopping just before the point of protruding from his No. 35 jersey when he's on the court.
Some have described the placement as “business tattoos,” meaning one of the league's rising stars isn't jeopardizing his marketability by marking up his limbs. The truth is that's precisely what Durant has done. He's strategically stained his skin only in areas where companies and consumers could never spot his growing mural of body art.
Durant confirmed the deliberate placement of his designs following a practice in early May when the Thunder was in a Western Conference semifinals series with Memphis. A day earlier on Twitter, I had verified a reader's query as to whether the images on Durant's chest from a previous photo were real. It sparked shock among my “followers” and led to a series of subsequent questions.
Within minutes, the social networking conversation had made its way to Durant, who happened to be live streaming a recording session from his in-home music studio. Durant immediately checked his phone on the broadcast and told viewers he does indeed have tattoos before adding, “so what?”
At practice the next day, Durant stopped me and wondered why so many fans seemed to care that he had tattoos. Near the end of our brief chat about the matter, I asked Durant when he got his ink and if he had purposely gotten it in places that would go unnoticed. The soft-spoken star rarely wanted to discuss his tattoos last season, and what essentially was a one-word response of “recently” followed by a head nod signaled his desire to return to his shell on the subject.
Durant, though, clearly is infatuated with ink.
When he arrived in Oklahoma City, Durant appeared to have only two tattoos: his mother's name, Wanda, above his left breast and his grandmother's name, Barbara, above his right breast. Durant then added a small tattoo on the bottom part of his left wrist, another tat he declined to speak about when asked its meaning last season.
Now, Durant barely has an uncovered spot on his stomach and chest.
While many have accepted Durant's decision and continue to root for him, it's rubbed others the wrong way. To some, the tattoos represent the first chink in Durant's armor, somehow serving as a sign that Durant is no choir boy. Perhaps the condemnation from those corners shouldn't come as a surprise since the form of body art still is a relatively new concept to many in this state. Oklahoma became the last state to legalize tattooing when it passed legislation in 2006.
But the majority of Durant's tats are inspirational sayings in the form of scripture or names and images that pay homage to his family and hometown.
Inscribed at the bottom of the right side of his stomach, Durant has “Walk by faith not by sight,” coming from 2 Corinthians 5:7. Immediately above that is a cross. Directly above the cross is another scripture, this one adopted from Proverbs 15:33, which reads, “The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.”
On the left side of his stomach, Durant has an image of a house, which he once told me was the home he grew up in. In front of the house is a boy wearing a No. 35 jersey dribbling a basketball. And above his belly button, Durant, a suburban Washington, D.C. native, has the Washington Nationals' squiggly red “W'” insignia.
It's all the same stuff about Durant that fans have come to love.
It's just packaged differently.