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Dear basketball players, please cut your fingernails

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Cut your fingernails if you’re going to play basketball. This is a humble request from me, a person who sometimes plays basketball. I’m also someone alarmed by the number of NBA players walking around with claw marks on their arms, necks, and faces. And those are not just superficial, transient marks. Check out this story from The Oregonian in 2010:

Nobody knows scratches on the Blazers more than Brandon Roy. The All-Star estimates he has at least 30 scars on his body from fingernails, and some of the scars are strikingly hideous. It has reached the point where Roy now uses a special cream to help with the scarring.

The largest scar, where his left shoulder and pectoral muscle connect, is jagged and raised, and looks as if he had surgery.

“People think I’ve had stitches there,’’ Roy said. “But it was just (Utah’s) Paul Millsap last year.’’

Scars! This is serious! And here’s the kicker!

“Guys in training camp keep them down because you are going against your own team,’’ Roy said. “But in the season, against other teams ... I don’t care about other teams.’’

Roy, who is covered in scars, was happy to run around scratching people up himself. The NBA doesn’t enforce any fingernail rules, so dudes are free to play with five tiny blades on each hand, slicing opponents with every hand check. Some players take it further than others — Rip Hamilton’s nails were single-handedly (or I guess both-handedly) responsible for Ray Allen’s decision to wear his signature shooting sleeve.

It’s gross. Really gross. But I guess if the league’s cool with it, who are we to question players seizing every available advantage? Do even more! Stop showering! Eat nothing but garlic before the game and breathe into dudes’ mouths when they face you up! The more rashes, the merrier!

Not you, though. Not us. If you play basketball at any amateur level, cut your damn nails.