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From the way that it grips to the way that it bounces, players have been criticizing the National Basketball Association's new game ball since the moment they arrived in training camp.

Now it turns out there's another reason they don't like it: It's bad for the skin.

Among the players making that complaint are one who handles it better than anyone, and another who is one of the league's best shooters.

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The latter, Seattle SuperSonics guard Ray Allen, said both he and backcourt mate Luke Ridnour have noticed the ball causing damage to their fingers.

"I have to constantly put lotion all over my hands because my fingers are cracking and it's causing splits on my finger tips," Allen said. "(The ball) is drying up all the moisture in my hands. Luke has the same problem. And when I started noticing it, I just thought it was the temperature as it was getting colder."

"But I noticed with the ball, like every time I catch it down here, it's starting to dry out my palm."

The moisture of the ball has been at the heart of the debate. Both the NBA and Spalding, the manufacturer, believe that the new microfibre composite material is easier to grip when it becomes damp than the old leather ball. Players say otherwise.

But both sides agree that the ball is more sticky when dry - but so sticky it causes problems, according to the players.

"It kind of beats up my fingers. Now I'm used to the ball and it would be difficult to change back," said Phoenix guard and Victoria native Steve Nash, the two-time MVP and the league leader in assists.

"I just need to keep my hands from getting too dry because when they get dry, the ball just tears them apart. It's kind of like paper cuts."

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Nash has been practising with tape on his fingers because of the cuts.

The players association filed an unfair labour practice charge with the U.S.'s National Labor Relations Board last week because of anger over the ball being changed without the association's input.

And though the NBA has been convinced the new ball is better, players who see it marking up their hands would disagree.

"My nail splits under there every three games from the ball just chafing it," said Suns guard Raja Bell, showing a mangled nail on his index finger.

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