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Younger players taking brunt of reputation hit during lockout

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Kobe Bryant is good, don’t worry about him. Dirk Nowitzki’s reputation is at an all-time high. LeBron James’ status isn’t any worse than where it was after his self-inflicted wounds from a year ago.

It’s not that the NBA lockout isn’t damaging player reputations — something that will worsen the longer it drags out — but rather that it is the young stars trying to establish their image that are taking the hit.

That according to an interesting note in the USA Today (via Eye On Basketball).

According to Henry Schafer, executive vice president of The Q Scores Company which measures consumer appeal of athletes and other personalities, the rating for Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, John Wall and Danny Granger dropped from an average of 21 in March to 14 last month. Dirk Nowitzki was the only NBA player with a better Q score (from 18 to 25 during the same span), a likely reflection of winning his first NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks. He also hasn’t been active in the lockout.

How serious a hit the players and the league take really depends on how long this drags out, but realize that the numbers above are without even one game lost yet. Put together a 60-game season and be playing by Christmas and things will be forgiven fairly quickly by fans (within a year or two). Miss a season and it could take a decade to rebuild the fan base.

A decade would cover most of the playing careers of Rose, Wall, Griffin, Durant and others. They have a lot riding on this deal getting done sooner rather than later.

Al Horford shows he still has hops dunking on Solomon Hill (VIDEO)

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That’s just nasty.

Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.

Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.

Dwyane Wade shows he still has hops with dunk on Hornets (VIDEO)

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Dwyane Wade still has some springs.

In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.

Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.

Reigning dunk champ LaVine: ‘I’ve got tricks up my sleeve’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.

LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.

LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.

If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.

Report: Blake Griffin has second procedure on hand, timeline remains unchanged

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Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).

That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.

This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.

Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.

And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.