• SHARE

NEW YORK — TNT’s studio savants were in peak blather last week after the Spurs outlasted the Dirk Nowitzki-less Mavericks. During probably the show’s most coherent 5-minute segment, not one of the four could name the Thunder’s best big man, because evidently they don’t believe the team has a best big man.

I could have sworn 208-cm Serge Ibaka averaged two blocks in six playoff games against the Lakers, but Chris Webber emphatically informed us Oklahoma City “had no shot-blocker last season.”

(FYI: Ibaka is averaging 2.3 snuffs, 6.7 rebounds and 9.7 points in 26 minutes this season.)

Having no command of the unchallenging situation, host Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley agreed with Webber by not remotely disagreeing, or, for that matter, reacting whatsoever; they just slouched there mesmerized.

Considering how many softballs Marv Albert grooved for analyst Steve Kerr regarding Mike D’Antoni during the Magic-Knicks telecast, you would think he could have fired at least one or two steamers.

For instance, “Incidentally, Steve, how come Mike no longer wanted to work for the Suns? Is it true you insisted he had to hire a defensive specialist as an assistant?”

Or, “How much friction existed between D’Antoni and Stoudemire in Phoenix? Were you surprised they reunited in New York? Or does a $99 million contract, far and away the highest bid, and two dreadful Knicks seasons tend to make players and coaches forgive and forget?”

Yeah, right, like the above line of questioning will ever happen.

Lies be told, I would rather hear Kerr startle us with insights like, “I think the victory over the Spurs was the Magic’s biggest win since the trade.”

I’m unsure whether that’s a level above or below Barkley’s canes-for-the-brain declaration following Gilbert Arenas’ shift from Washington to Orlando. “I’ve been saying all along he needed a change of address,” he proudly asserted.

How the Salutatorian of Stupidity arrived at that conclusion before anyone else, and all by himself, I’ll never know.

* * * * *

When a star player — in this instance, Kevin Garnett — gets hurt, the first thing that’s examined is the X-ray/CT-scan; no news is bad news in my book.

The second thing that’s examined is the schedule.

In the case of the Celtics, they’re entering a fairly soft underbelly of the irregular season, which is only relevant if K.G. is merely minimally maimed.

That said, this is a Vitamin C squad already without Kendrick Perkins from the jump and Rajon Rondo for 10 games, including the last six with an ankle injury; he’s a game-time decision vs. the Hornets.

The prospects without Garnett for any length of time is such a revolting development the Celtics may have to get useful frontcourt minutes from the Jermaine and Shaquille O’Neal, both long past their warranties, and a pair of unknown quantities in Semih Erden and Luke Harangody.

* * * * *

You have to love Phil Jackson, who apparently doesn’t coach as well when all the silverware isn’t polished, but it doesn’t mean I must. Weary of overseeing his team, the Zen Hen is trying to take my job and coach the whole league simultaneously.

Earlier this season, Jackson took his talons to South Beach and wondered publicly about how long Pat Riley would allow the Heat to stumble before he supplanted Erik Spoelstra, a la Stan Van Gundy.

How poetic would it be if Spoelstra innocently expressed a similar sentiment a few days ago regarding Riley replacing Jackson whose Lakers had been slip-mud-sliding away — accentuated by the Heat’s Christmas Day home invasion — before the Hornets came to their rescue?

While in New Orleans, Jackson was asked for his take on the Plight of the Bumble Bees, now owned by the NBA’s 29 other owners and operated by a David Stern appointee.

“Not happy about that,” Jackson said. “Who’s going to trade who to whom? Who’s going to pull the button on trading players or when Chris (Paul) says he has to be traded? How’s that going to go? I don’t know.

“Somebody’s going to have to make a very nonjudgmental decision on that part that’s not going to irritate anybody else in this league. . . . I don’t know how they’re going to do that.

“That’s what everybody is going to be afraid of: Who is going to be helping who out?”

Oh, that, Phil, what a court jester; as if his teams regularly get shortchanged or stiffed during the conversion process of prized players.

Maybe I’m really Trevor Ariza, but wasn’t this the same guy whose Bulls were gifted Dennis Rodman for Will Perdue in 1995 and whose Lakers shoplifted Pau Gasol in a theft so egregious there’s crime scene tape to this very day?

Peter Vecsey cover the NBAfor the New York Post.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.

SUBSCRIBE NOW