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CLIPPERS FYI

Blake Griffin's monster dunks bring to mind Shawn Kemp

Kemp, like Griffin, threw down some powerful dunks in his day, allegedly including one that threw off sparks.

February 02, 2012|By Baxter Holmes

Blake Griffin's posterizing dunk on Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins forced Twitter into a near-overload on Monday, causing each of their names to trend worldwide.

But, out of relative obscurity, so did another name: Shawn Kemp.

Kemp, whose 14-season NBA career ended in 2002-03 with Orlando, was known as an aggressive dunker himself.

And as Kemp and the Clippers' star forward are each 6 feet 10, naturally there are comparisons.

"I've talked to a couple of guys who've said, 'Was Shawn as powerful?'" said Denver Nuggets Coach George Karl, who coached Kemp in Seattle, before Thursday's game. "I think that's the guy who's closest."

Legend had it that Kemp once dunked so hard that sparks flew off the rim. He later admitted it to be true, adding that the basket had a metal-chain net, which helped the sparks fly.

Karl said seeing Griffin's dunks reminded Karl of his own dunks — in a way.

"This kid, he gets so high above the rim. It reminds me of when I was an athlete and I could jump and we got the 8-foot hoops," Karl said. "He does things that we used to do on 8, maybe 7-foot [hoops]. You know, throwing it down from three feet away."

Many deemed Griffin's dunk on Perkins to be better than his famous dunk against Timofey Mozgov last season when Mozgov played for New York.

In his return Thursday as a member of the Denver Nuggets, Mozgov was asked to reminisce about it.

"After my dunk, everybody said, 'It was unbelievable,'" Mozgov said. "Nobody thought it could be better, then [three] nights ago…"

Mozgov added, "Who will be next?"

Kenyon Martin OKd for NBA return

Yahoo Sports reported that free-agent forward Kenyon Martin has received immediate clearance to return to the NBA from the governing body of international basketball, FIBA.

Previously, Martin was required under China Basketball Assn. rules to wait until the CBA's Xinjiang Tigers, for whom he played, ended their season, which could have come as soon as Feb. 16.

The Clippers are vying for Martin's services, people with knowledge of the situation have told The Times' Broderick Turner.

Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said Martin could make a decision over the weekend or early next week.

But would Del Negro dread having to assimilate another player into a team that has already added new pieces such as Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler in the off-season?

"Well, it just all depends on who the player is," Del Negro said with a mile-wide grin. "And I'll leave it at that."

Etc.

Guard Eric Bledsoe injured his right knee during practice Tuesday when he collided with another player. Bledsoe missed Wednesday and again sat out Thursday, but Del Negro said he doesn't think it's a serious injury. "I don't expect it to be long for him," Del Negro said.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com

twitter.com/baxterholmes

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