Does Nike rule the NBA? Why is JR Smith fined and not Marcin Gortat?

The NBA League threatens Cleveland Cavaliers’ JR Smith to a fine if he doesn’t cover up his “Supreme” tattoo. The logo is by a New York-based streetwear company, and is tattooed on the back of his right calf.

League spokesman, Mike Bass, said, “The NBA rules prohibit players from displaying any commercial logos or corporate insignia on their body or in their hair." However, under the NBA's uniform policy, wearing the sleeve also is a violation. But, the dress code does not include any such limitations for players wearing similar logo tattoos.

Other players in the league with similar tattoos, like Marcin Gortat, hasn't ever received a fine threat.

Gortat, who is not sponsored by Nike, has a Michael Jordan jumpman logo tattoo, also inked on his calf. For years.

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However, apparently, JR Smith is an exception. Perhaps because the NBA doesn’t have a deal with Supreme, while they do with Nike?

Smith took it on Instagram, saying: "So I was informed that I would be fined every game if I don't cover up my 'SUPREME TATTOO' on my legs during games!! These people in the league office are something else!"

The issue is that the NBA has an exclusive apparel deal with Nike, which went into effect last season. Still, per the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and the league, Smith can be fined if he fails to cover up the tattoo during official NBA action.

Washington Wizard's Austin Rivers told INKED,

"I don't think it's right that they've been trying to ban somebody for what's on their body. I mean, it's not that serious."

"I'm sure there are guys out on the court with tattoos that stand for things a lot worse than SUPREME," Rivers said.

"I swear I’m the only person they do s--t like this to! So you mean to tell me i have to cover up my tattoo for what?" Smith wrote on Instagram. "You don’t make people cover up Jordan logos NIKE checks or anything else but because it’s me it’s a problem all of a sudden!!!"

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Last season, Smith had previously wore a Supreme shooting sleeve, as the accessory was a part of the company’s collaboration with Nike, whom Smith has an official endorsement deal with.

Over the course of J.R. Smith’s 14-year NBA career, the guard has collected more than $700,000 in fines. Unfortunately, without covering up the tattoo each game, his total could be much much more.

When JR Smith was asked about his first tattoo, he said, "It was Vince Carter dunking, but I just changed the number and put my name on the back … my mom was the one who took me to go get it."

Along with Marcin Gortat’s Jordan Brand's "Jumpman" logo tattooed on his lower leg, and without a threat of any fine, Carmelo Anthony has the Warner Brothers' "WB" logo tattooed on his shoulder as a tribute to his hometown of West Baltimore, Maryland. Celtics' Kyrie Irving has the Friends logo tattooed on him.

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Both tattoos are visible, and have been for years.

Since the league's focus has centered into protecting the interest of their sponsors... to protect the NBA's interest, the double standards continue to ring in as unfair. The best way for the league to end any criticism, or at the least, speculation is to fairly enforce its ban on corporate tattoos or... just waive the rule altogether.

Smith insisted he did not have an endorsement agreement with Supreme and decided to get the tattoo on his own.

"It was just something that I wanted to do,'' he said. "There's a lot of other things going on in this world that the league could be worried about besides a tattoo, but it's their league. They can do what they want."

JR Smith said he hasn't contacted the league regarding the "Supreme" tattoo, and says he doesn't plan on having that conversation.

"No. For what?" he asked. "I don't talk to the police. That doesn't do anything for me."

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