I found myself slightly distracted from the Suns’ 2nd half collapse against the visiting Mavericks this afternoon by a Page Six item claiming James Dolan is treating those with tickets to the Knicks’ season finale to free food. While Celtics fans will risk poisoning on the Garden’s knishes, Cosellout’s Charles Modiano is unlikely to be mollified with snacks, claiming that new Knicks exec Donnie Walsh “has done absolutely nothing during the last five years to deserve any opportunity to take over the New York Knicks. But his complexion, perception, connections, and affection by and for the media just might make him the perfect person for the job.”

While listening to the half hour press conference, I kept on waiting for the tough questions to arrive: No, not the 52 varied inquiries of œwill, when, why, where, how, and how long will it take for you to fire Isiah? (note: the opinion here is that, at minimum, Isiah should be retained as a draft consultant through the 2008 draft)¦ Absent were those really tough New York questions. Like œwhy has Indiana™s win totals declined the last 4 years and looking worse for the next four?¦ œExactly how much control did you or Larry Bird have in the decision making process? œ¦Whose idea was it to essentially let Ron Artest go for free?¦ and of course, œgive us every last detail about the process that led to franchise crippling œDunMurphy trade that you ultimately signed off on?

One had to turn to none other than Skip Bayless to set the record straight:

“The GM™s I talk to regularly around the league ¦for the last five years have told me that Donnie Walsh is just over-rated in large part because he has such great relationships with the national writers. He™s very good at buddying up to the media. He has had final say on all the moves that have made the Indiana Pacers such a mess over the last five years¦ At age 67 he is getting 5 million a year to rebuild the New York Knicks. This is just insanity-squared to me.

Perhaps Bayless wasn™t aware of Donnie Walsh™s most useful qualifications: he is old, white, and well-connected. So long as you have been successful at an earlier point in your career œold, white, and media-friendly = instant respectability in the eyes of a media contingent that mostly looks like their siblings or children. It helps to explain why the three most common names to surface amongst media recommendations were Walsh, Jerry Colangelo (68), and Jerry West (69), despite Indiana™s recent demise, Colangelo™s GM inactivity, and West™s forgettable stint with the Memphis Grizzlies. Rarely has a media so routinely critical bypassed so many opportunities for legitimate criticism. ¦And then it started to all make sense: Donnie might be exactly what the Knicks need. Making the Knicks better is the easy part. Replacing Isiah as coach, playing sensible rotations, adding a top 5 pick, and subtracting Zach Randolph are moves that will instantly lead to 10-15 more wins. Add one solid chemistry-improving trade and the Knicks are back in the playoffs. The hard part is: having the media promote patience that would simply no longer be granted under Isiah Thomas “ and many other incoming executives; patience not to make a drastic roster overhaul; patience to let young guys develop as they did last year; patience to let misused players restore their trade value before sending them off for a dime on the dollar; patience to potentially take a free agent crack at Lebron/DWade/CBosh.