Reviewing the messy tenures of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge in Indiana, Minnesota and Boston respectively, the New York Times’ Harvey Araton seems to wonder why none of the 3 are as universally ridiculed as the Knicks’ current president/head coach, writing “still playing by 1980s-era rules, it is obviously so much easier to beat up on a Motown Bad Boy than a sainted old Celtic.”

To an ever-changing roster and an increasingly mediocre team Bird obtained Marquis Daniels, one of three Pacers (Jamaal Tinsley and Keith McLeod were the others) under police investigation after a melee in another Indianapolis nightspot early Tuesday morning. (Daniels and Tinsley were also involved in the October scuffle.)

Not arrested or charged, the players have denied being in a fight hours after Jackson returned with Golden State for the first time Monday night after an eight-player deal and torched the Pacers for 36 points. What symmetry. Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star surveyed the wreckage of the team™s reputation and called the Pacers œan embarrassment of an organization in his column yesterday, adding that he would œrather be the Boston Celtics.

Still playing by those 1980s-era rules, imagine if it were Thomas™s team that had dropped 36 of 48 games this season and 16 straight in Year 3 of a declared youth movement, and not a franchise under the direction of Danny Ainge.

Playing for weeks without their best player, Paul Pierce, better explains the Celtics™ franchise-record losing streak, but is there really any doubt that in the same period of time that Bird has been in Indiana, and a few months longer than Thomas has been in New York, that Ainge has done the worst job of the three.? Where is the national condemnation for collapsing the most storied N.B.A. franchise of all?

Imagine if it were Thomas™s team that had only two playoff series victories to show for a decade with a superstar like Kevin Garnett, and not McHale™s. Imagine if Thomas had been caught circumventing the league™s salary cap and cost his team multiple first-round draft picks and $3.5 million, as McHale did in 2000.

What would be an unpardonable blunder for Thomas and probably for most became a short leave of absence for McHale, who is now one of the most tenured executives in a league in which even Michael Jordan got fired. We rest our case.

Though mocking Eddy Curry’s recent declarations of support for Thomas as a case of “just another easily influenced kid being stage-managed by a legendary cult leader,” the New York Post’s Peter Vescey eventually puts on the kid gloves.

Other than the fact he leads the league in in-bounds (as opposed to rebounds), I appreciate the way Curry’s aptitude for passing is expanding and I’m impressed with how he handles himself with just the right mix of modesty and confidence. Nothing he’s said or done makes me think he’s anything but a good kid who’s finally learning what it takes to be a professional ball player. And regardless of whether Thomas stays or goes, I’m sure Curry will come to comprehend he didn’t sign a personal services contract with his guru, he signed with the Knicks. That’s who deserve his ultimate loyalty.

Marcel Mutoni was the first to suggest this morning that bad, bad things happen to persons who tell the truth diss the All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Contest.