Larry Bird is not exactly flattered by the way an Indianapolis artist depicted him in a mural.
Graffiti and street artist Jules Muck created a large painting of Bird on a multi-family house, featuring him in a powder blue Indiana State uniform. The mural is a replica of a 1977 Sports Illustrated cover, however, she added the tattoos so that it would not be an exact copy of the photo, Muck told IndyStar.
The tattoos on the mural Bird’s arm feature two bunnies mating and the number 76 on his right arm, a spiderweb and a clover on his left, and a red cardinal on his cheek.
But Bird is not happy with the artistic license the muralist took, said his attorney Gary Sallee.
“Larry’s position is he has elevated himself from where he began to where he is now through a lot of hard work. He has developed a brand that is marketable and he needs to protect that brand,” Sallee told IndyStar. “The mural, as originally painted, was a departure from that brand.”
“All of his friends and 98 percent percent of his players are tattooed. He doesn’t have any problem with tattoos,” Sallee noted. “He just doesn’t want to be seen as a tattooed guy.”
Despite the controversy, Bird does not want the mural to be removed entirely — just the tattoos.
Luckily, the pair have come to an agreement, the IndyStar later reported.
Muck will remove all the tattoos, save for the “Indiana” on Bird’s forearm. “This is another human being that is obviously not liking it,” Muck told the outlet. “If he was happy and thought it was funny, that’s a different story.”
Bird made headlines earlier this summer when it was announced he and Magic Johnson would be co-recipients of the NBA Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Johnson and Bird helped define the modern NBA and elevate the league in the 1980s,” the NBA announced in a release.