NEW YORK — Gary Payton is so concerned about getting more minutes (and touches), he might want to reassess the value of being expelled from games; Little Noxious, it deserves highlighting, leads the league with four ejections.

What ever happened to Payton’s self-righteous chant upon joining the Lakers about the ring being the only thing that matters?

Salary, shots and status are irrelevant, he said, preaching, “I’m all about winning.”

Fact is, Payton’s so not about sacrifice Mel Gibson announced he would never do a movie about his life. Who would’ve thought, yet another Glove in L.A. that doesn’t fit?

As the NBA gears itself to welcome back Chris Webber, his high school eligibility is being questioned because of that “pesky” portfolio he put together courtesy of the dearly departed Michigan booster “Con Ed” Martin.

By my count, that gives C-Note the rarest of triple crowns: ineligibility in high school, college and the pros.

Sad to report, the witchhunt continues. Investigators claim Webber also soiled the records of his pre-school teams. Evidently they’ve unearthed proof he took illegal booster shots.

Several hours before the All-Star Game, Pat Riley, seemingly auditioning for the Lakers’ coaching job next season, spoke for 40 minutes at the Legend’s Brunch. Now I understand why he’s so highly paid on the lecture circuit. Riley gets $25,000 to speak and another $25,000 to stop speaking.

Being an Atlanta Hawks fan this season is like jumping on the Dennis Kucinich bandwagon.

I suspect it’s almost safe to say LeBron James has validated Cavalier president Jim Paxson’s decision to draft him instead of Darko Milicic.

Grizzlies president Jerry West was unswerving in his unwillingness to part with Shane Battier in any deal for Erick Dampier, but that wasn’t the only prohibitive factor. Aside from owning a two-year escape clause come July 1 (he’s currently on the books at $7.557 million), the Warriors’ center has accumulated an extra $3.5 million in bonuses (rebounds and blocks) that Memphis would have had to pay.

How bad did the Nets get mauled in Minnesota and home-wrecked by the Lakers?

Kobe breezed through Jersey without broadcasting he would consider signing with them this summer.

What do you mean, you can’t understand how the Timberwolves could lose to the Allen Iverson-less 76ers? Some wise guy told ’em it was the first round of the playoffs.

What a surprise to read Iverson disregarded team rules (again) to contact Chris Ford directly when he called in sick for Sunday’s 81-74 win. Then again, if A.I. bucked with Larry Brown on his back, why should we think he would conform with a substitute teacher riding him?

The Knicks’ stock has dropped so much of late that Martha Stewart denied selling it.

I’m not saying the Nets’ bench is shallow after Aaron Williams, but Rod Thorn is thinking about protecting Eddie Griffin’s attorney in the June expansion draft.

It’s official: The Knicks have become such tragic figures the refs are handwriting Dikembe Mutombo’s number on their inside-out shirts.

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