Writing in Friday’s Newsday that ” as long as Stephon Marbury and his vast collection of headgear towels are here, the face of the franchise is forever a frown”, Jon Heyman has no trouble identifying the Knicks’ biggest liability. Though he fails, of course, to mention what team would take on Marbury’s contract.

The Knicks won’t win a thing as long as Marbury is the centerpiece, and that’s all he’s ever wanted to be. That was clear from his NBA origins when he chafed at playing second fiddle to all-time talent Kevin Garnett, and it’s just as clear today, when he complains about his new role to distribute. Sure he’s a hog, but at least he knows it.

Marbury has a lot better chance of spoiling the team’s youth program than enhancing it, like 100 times better. Whatever you think of Isiah Thomas’ moves so far, three of Isiah’s draft choices look promising, while the fourth, Channing Frye, already is productive. But kids are impressionable. What kind of impression does Marbury make when he trudges to the scorer’s table, towel over head, as if he’s headed for death row.

He sets a crummy example before he steps on the court, then worsens things with his uniquely sad-sack, selfish style of play. He makes $19 million and acts as if it’s torture all the way. What sort of example does this set?

He gets upset when he isn’t getting his minutes and points, yet clams up when the team isn’t getting it done. Barely two weeks into the season, he signaled that he’d had it with Brown’s time-tested system. What kind of example does that set?

Phil Jackson went back to L.A. for the sun and fun, but also to stay away from the real “uncoachable” player, which is Marbury, not Kobe Bryant. As Jackson’s good friend and biographer Charley Rosen presciently remarked back then to Newsday, “The only way Marbury ever improved a team is to leave it.”

Despite a 6-15 record, the Knicks aren’t above having a mindless distraction or two. Having already fought with Jerome James earlier this season, 5’4″ Nate Robinson, according to the Daily News’ Mitch Lawrence, attacked Malik Rose in the shower Wednesday, trying to collect on a football bet.

“Nate tried to jump on me when I was naked, thinking he had the advantage that way,” Rose said. “He just got on my nerves, trying to get his money, and I’m not giving it to him. It was a couple of dollars.”

The way Rose said “a couple of dollars,” a couple of zeroes might be part of the bet.

Also as part of the payoff, Rose has to wear a Seahawks jersey and hat. Rose admitted that he tried to get out of the bet during the game when the Eagles’ Michael Westbrook was injured.

“All bets aren’t good until halftime,” he claimed. “When Westbrook went down, I didn’t want to bet no more and Nate won’t let me out of it. I don’t think I should have to pay because all of my guys were injured.”