A mural depicting a heavily tattooed Larry Bird has gotten under the NBA legend’s skin, his lawyer says.
Bird, 62, is demanding California-based street artist Jules Muck remove most of the tats that cover his body in a mural that appeared last week on the side of a multi-family home in Indianapolis’ Fountain Square section, the Indianapolis Star reports.
“Larry’s position is he has elevated himself from where he began to where he is now through a lot of hard work,” attorney Gary Sallee told the newspaper. “He has developed a brand that is marketable and needs to protect that brand. The mural, as originally painted, was a departure from that brand.”
Bird simply “doesn’t want to be seen as a tattooed guy,” Sallee added.
Bird — who did not appear to have tattoos when he played for the Boston Celtics — is painted with two bunnies mating on his forearm, a spiderweb on his shoulder, a shamrock on his arm and a fiery red cardinal on his cheek.
The word “Indiana” on his left forearm is expected to be the only skin art left behind after an agreement reached Tuesday between Muck and the three-time NBA champ, his attorney said.
“He has not been heavy-handed at all,” Sallee said of the negotiations. “All of his friends and 98 percent of his players are tattooed. He doesn’t have any problem with tattoos.”
Muck, meanwhile, said she chose to paint the replica of Bird’s 1977 Sports Illustrated cover dubbing him “College Basketball’s Secret Weapon” while at Indiana State University due to Bird’s roots and because the throwback image fascinated her.
“That’s what motivated me,” she told the newspaper. “It was kind of kitsch and retro.”
Muck is now working with Bird’s reps to come to an agreement to keep the mural up, but that tats were added to make the depiction of the NBA legend her own, she said.
“It would be very scary if I wasn’t allowed to paint people, because I paint people constantly,” Muck told the outlet. “They said the tattoos are the problem. I can’t just do an exact replica of a photograph. Plus, I don’t want to.”
Muck insists she never intended to offend Larry Legend.
“He’s wearing colors that match the building,” Muck told WISH. “It felt to me that it was aesthetically perfect … That being said, I wasn’t trying to make a prestigious, fancy piece. I also have fun with my work and I kind of like to make people laugh.”