Larry Bird and mural artist reach compromise: One tattoo gets to stay

Yahoo Sports Contributor
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Larry Bird wasn't very happy with this mural depicting him covered in tattoos. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Larry Bird wasn't very happy with this mural depicting him covered in tattoos. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

A day after Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird publicly expressed his displeasure over an Indianapolis mural depicting him covered with face, neck and arm tattoos, his lawyer and the street artist responsible for the mural have agreed the street ink will be removed. With one exception.

And people say compromise is a dead art these days.

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Which tattoo is mural Larry Bird keeping?

Artist Jules Muck said she has agreed to remove all the tattoos on her Bird mural except for a large “Indiana” written on his left forearm, according to the Indianapolis Star. The artist’s “Muck Rock” tag will also be moved elsewhere on the mural rather than Bird’s right bicep.

Muck seemed fairly understanding of Bird’s wishes, according to quotes given to the Star:

"This is another human being that is obviously not liking it," she told IndyStar Wednesday morning. "If he was happy and thought it was funny, that's a different story.

"Larry deserves some sort of prestigious mural," she said. "That's not my calling. That's not what I'm here to do. I just wanted to have a little fun."

The mural in question is based on a 1977 Sports Illustrated photo of Bird in his Indiana State uniform, painted in Muck’s style that commonly adds fake tattoos to people. Among Muck’s past subjects seen are Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Judy Garland.

Why Larry Bird wanted the tattoos removed

Bird, who has no tattoos at all, felt the added tattoos conflicted with his brand and marketability, according to his lawyer Gary Sallee. Per Sallee, who insisted Bird doesn’t have a problem with body ink, the NBA Hall of Famer was ready to compromise on the matter.

"All of his friends and 98 percent of his players are tattooed,” Sallee reportedly said, via the Star. “He doesn't have any problem with tattoos. He just doesn’t want to be seen as a tattooed guy.”

With the exception of a plain “Indiana” on his forearm, Bird got his wish. And, in accordance with the Streisand Effect, caused exponentially more people to see the mural than if he had just left it alone.

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