Suggesting that Stephon Marbury “must be aware that someone as beloved as Magic Johnson was not prepared to be a talk-show host. Nor was Chevy Chase,” (what, no Jane Pratt jokes?) the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir is less than impressed with the Self-Proclaimed No.1 Point Guard In The NBA’s chat show host debut.

Stephon Marbury™s new talk show, œStars on Stars, on Fox Sports Net gives the Knicks™ point guard a different image, but it™s doubtful he wants to be seen as a star-struck host. His guest on the first episode, which aired yesterday, was as polished as Marbury was raw. Kobe Bryant™s enthusiastic responses to a half hour of soft questions led the Lakers™ star to rave, œThe best show I™ve ever done.”

Marbury has a 13-week series on F.S.N., which is surprising because of his dyspeptic, combative demeanor that has yielded brutal candor, like the return salvos last season against Knicks Coach Larry Brown. Marbury is in the midst of remaking his public persona with help from his popular line of inexpensive Starbury sneakers, an apparently well-executed business idea.

œStars on Stars offers a gregarious, smiling, easygoing and thrilled-to-meet you Marbury, which might be his private style with his pals. But it has no edge or élan. He lets Bryant take the conversation wherever he wants, whether it is buying diapers for his daughter or scoring 81 points in a game.

œI didn™t feel like I was in the zone, Bryant tells Marbury.

œCome on, man, you don™t feel like you was in the zone at all during the game? Marbury asks, with a smile. Not until the fourth quarter, Bryant said.

It is a given that a contemporary athlete is not going to trample his guests or ask embarrassing questions, which is why Marbury™s role is a rare one. But even in the most congenial one-on-one exchange, it is not a sin to ask Bryant about Shaquille O™Neal or initiate a discussion about Bryant™s up-and-down-and-up relationship with his coach, Phil Jackson, and Marbury™s own season-long meltdown with Brown.