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The Tattoo Story

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My journey from impulsive Twitter user to Mike Scott Hive tattoo guy

I tweeted this during halftime of Sixers-Nets Game 2. The Sixers had led comfortably the majority of the first half, only to see their lead evaporate as the second quarter came to a close. The tweet was meant to provide some levity after a stretch of frustrating basketball — but it also came from a genuine place.

I’m sure other sports fan bases identify themselves similarly. Sports fanaticism can cause regularly rational people to behave entirely irrationally, to the point of total lunacy. Calling oneself a “psychopath” in relation to one’s own sports fandom can be a prideful assessment. The difference between other fan bases and the Sixers fan base is that I wasn’t strictly classifying our fandom as psychopathic. We, as human beings, are psychopaths, through and through.

We deify a former general manager. Our rallying cry is #SixersIn6 (because only Philadelphians would determine the number of games it will take to beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals during the regular season). We troll Celtics fans even when the Sixers lose. We keep a record of wins and losses when wearing specific shirts — okay, maybe that’s just me. None of this is normal... but damn it feels right.

I know what you’re thinking: this tattoo kid is beyond psychopathic. Maybe you’re right. You’re probably right. You’re 100% right. Maybe I’m slightly (a lot) more impulsive than the average fan. I might be a tad more self-deprecating than my diehard companions. But I will always share two essential things in common with the neurotic section of the fan base I am proudly a part of:

  1. Sixers basketball consumes my life
  2. I ain’t no bitch

By now, you know the story. If you don’t, let me offer up a brief summary: In March, I tweeted that I’d get a Mike Scott tattoo if I reached 1,000 followers by the next day. Spike Eskin saw it, I surpassed 1,000 followers less than a half hour later, and I eventually got the tattoo. You’ve likely read about it on Twitter or some other corner of the internet. Instead of providing a basic chronology of the events, I decided I will tell the story from my perspective — how I was feeling, what I was thinking, why I decided to go through with it. So here it is, folks...

It was early evening on March 26. The Sixers were off that night, so I sat in my girlfriend’s apartment mindlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed. As I scrolled, I stumbled upon a video of Sixers forward Mike Scott diving into the first row of the Fiserv Forum to save a loose ball, and promptly taking a sip of a lady’s alcoholic beverage before returning to action. I’d already watched it 50-or-so times at that point, but my reaction was still one of sheer joy.

I have a habit of impulsively tweeting, as I’m sure many do. After watching the video a few more times, my impulses took over:

It was a silly, thoughtless tweet meant to elicit a few laughs. At most, I expected several retweets and maybe a couple new followers. If memory serves me right, I had about 550 followers at the time I posted it. There was no way I’d crack 600 before the day was over, let alone 1,000. The problem was not that I underestimated the amount of followers I had. Rather, it was that I underestimated one particular account that was following me.

A couple weeks earlier, I had written a fictional piece for Liberty Ballers that imagined Bryan Colangelo was still the Sixers general manager entering the 2019 offseason. Spike Eskin of the Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast enjoyed it and followed me. Surely he wouldn’t see the tweet, though, right? He did:

By this time, I’d already gained nearly one hundred new followers (credit to Adam Aaronson and several other Liberty Ballers writers for initially retweeting it). Still, I had no expectation of reaching 1,000 followers. What happened next was pure, unexpected chaos:

Eighteen minutes after daring Spike, I reached my mark. I know what you’re thinking: Why the hell would you dare him? Didn’t you know it would end poorly? Of course I knew it would end poorly. But remember what I said about diehard Sixers fans — we ain’t no bitches.

I stood in the middle of my girlfriend’s bedroom, mouth agape as I stared at my phone screen.

“What are you going to do?” she asked as she nervously smiled at me.

“Well, I guess I’ll get the tattoo,” I replied.

I doubt many people believed I would get it. As ESPN’s Pablo Torre exclaimed on his talk show High Noon yesterday afternoon, “Mike Scott . . . (is an) unrestricted free agent this year!” Mike Scott might not be on the Sixers next season. Mike Scott’s name will still be tattooed on my body next season. A rational person would never take such a risk. As I’ve already stated, I am no such person.

I told my mother about it a few days later. I walked into the living room and sat across from her.

“You won’t believe what happened,” I said.

I began recounting everything that happened, from watching the Mike Scott video to daring Spike. After I was finished, she stared at me in comical disbelief.

“That is so dumb,” she responded.

I say this with the utmost sincerity — I never wavered. The minute I reached 1,000 followers, I began Photoshopping tattoo designs (my Sixers Twitter pals will attest to this... I sent them ideas constantly). Last week, I tweeted out two potential designs and asked people to choose which one they liked most. Even after that, I’m not sure many of them truly thought I’d go through with it. Why would they? I’ve joked around online countless times. This could easily have been one of those instances.

Regardless of public perception, my mind was made up — I was getting this tattoo during the second round of the playoffs. I didn’t want to get it following a loss, so I waited until after Game 2 to schedule the appointment. So the next day, which happened to be my birthday, I walked into the tattoo parlor.

**My girlfriend wanted me to mention that she bought the tattoo as a birthday present. She is a very good person, and I’m lucky she finds my psychosis charming.**

Although I originally said I would get the tattoo in an area near my neck, I decided to get it on the right side of my ribs instead. If anyone has any gripes with that decision, piss off. Have you ever felt a needle scrape against your rib cage for an hour and a half? It is quite possibly the worst pain I have ever experienced, and I never want to experience it again (this was my second rib tattoo, which says a lot about me).

As the tattoo artist inflicted pain into my right side, I distinctly remember muttering “this is going to be so worth it” to myself. I wasn’t referring to the attention I’d get online, or even the hilarity of it all. I just wanted to prove to any potential naysayers that I’m a man of my word. I wrote about my sobriety in relation to The Process Sixers earlier this month. In it, I touch on elements of active addiction. What I do not mention in the piece is that alcoholics and addicts oftentimes lose credibility. Even at six-plus years sober, I still feel a need to prove myself, to show that I can keep promises. I promised a shit ton of Twitter users that I would get a Mike Scott tattoo. There is no way I was breaking that promise.

As the artist applied a protective bandage over my tattoo, I tried explaining the story behind it (which was extremely difficult given the pain I was in). After I had finally finished, he looked at me.

“That’s pretty cool,” he said.

Some people love the tattoo, some think it’s pretty cool, and others think it’s bizarre. The majority of Sixers fans fall into the first group. Why bother explaining a Mike Scott Hive tattoo to someone that hasn’t experienced the joy of rooting for Mike Scott? I’ve found there’s no reason to. This tattoo is for us, not them. Yesterday, I wrote that “Mike Scott possesses every quality Philly fans want their athletes to have — toughness, singularity, a sense of humor, respect for the fanbase, etc.” I’m proud to have this tattoo. I ain’t no bitch.