Along with implying the “corrosive influence” of Allen Iverson will bring further bloodshed to the Rocky Mountains, the New York Daily News’ somewhat confused Eric Barrow warns NBA commisioner David Stern, “Hip-hop and the NBA are one.”

Why is the violence associated with hip-hop only the NBA’s problem? This past year alone, eight Cincinnati Bengals were arrested on charges ranging from driving under the influence to battery to burglary. Where’s the NFL’s alarm bells? Where’s the outrage that the league is raging out of control? Does the NFL hate itself? Does it hate what it’s becoming?

How about the NHL, where the Rangers’ Brendan Shanahan picks a fight with known enforcer Donald Brashear and is regaled for defending his team? Or how about Isiah Thomas getting the rack at that same Garden two weeks earlier for calling for a hard foul on the Nuggets, who’d had their starting five on the court in the waning minutes of a 20-point blowout?

Why does the NBA have this inferiority complex? Why does it hate what it’s become? Are crime and fisticuffs exclusive to basketball, making this all-out push for a kinder, gentler NBA necessary? Hardly.

It’s time for the NBA to stand up for its players instead of cracking down on them. Stern acts more like a single parent trying to teach a house full of unrulies how to walk, talk and dress than a commissioner. He even has to tell them to go to school for a year, leaving barrels of cash on the table.

A year at Duke will make you a better man. A year at Georgetown will do the same, just like two did for Iverson.

Maybe the NBA would like itself again if it embraced its culture instead of stifling it. It is, after all, the culture that sells the video games, and the baggy shorts and oversized jerseys and puts money in everybody’s pocket.

Maybe it’s time to embrace what the NBA is: Black and proud.

I’m sure the Association’s reigning two-time MVP would agree wholeheartedly.