Think it is fair to say that Stephon Marbury wishes he’d called himself “one of the best point guards in the tri-state area”? Newsday’s Barbara Barker reports on the tarnished reputation of Coney Island’s most famous cultural export (other than Von LMO).

Marbury is the most talented player on the Knicks, and in many games, he is the most talented player on the floor. It’s his belief in that talent and the swagger that comes with it that have taken him to where he is and made him a fierce competitor.

At the same time, that tunnel vision and self-absorption have never made his teammates better.

It didn’t in Minnesota. It didn’t in New Jersey. It didn’t in Phoenix.

Some in the league think Isiah Thomas should have seen this pattern before making Marbury the linchpin of his rebuilding plan.

“It’s fair to say he doesn’t have a great track record,” one NBA executive said.

So what does a team do when its best player is morphing into a toxic force in the locker room?

The first thing the Knicks should do is quit catering to him. Marbury, and to a lesser extent Jamal Crawford, appear to have a direct pipeline to Thomas. A pipeline that bypasses coach Herb Williams and bypassed former coach Lenny Wilkens. How is anyone able to coach a team when he knows his star player can go over his head any time he doesn’t like what he’s doing?

The second thing the Knicks need to do is try to add some established veteran players who have the confidence to call Marbury on the carpet. If Houston hadn’t gotten injured and had a more assertive personality, he might have been able to counterbalance Marbury. Kurt Thomas has the personality to keep Marbury in line, but because he is a holdover from the pre-Marbury regime, he doesn’t carry the necessary clout to keep him in check.

The third thing the Knicks could do is scrap the whole plan and start over – something they’re not likely to do.

(fomer teammates Stephon and Kevin Garnett —- the latter in the midst of a premonition in which Marbury is thoroughly outplayed by a Canadian with a goofy haircut)