Even machines disrespect Celtics

If the defending champions aren’t already up to here with GMs, writers and most other life forms picking the Lakers, so are virtual life forms.

Every fall, the NBA sends out an EA Sports simulation to give everyone the benefit of the state of the art in video games. Also to promote the one that sponsors the league.

Guess who EA Sports picked?

(Hint: It wasn’t the Celtics.)

It not only picks the Lakers, the Celtics don’t even make the Finals. Boston finishes third, falling from 66 wins to 44, makes a brave run in the playoffs but falls in the conference finals to . . . Miami?


I don’t care how silly it is, I don’t want to be the one who tells Kevin Garnett.


This just in: Hacking Shaq is baq

Fearless, stubborn or low on options, San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich had his players hack Shaquille O’Neal in last spring’s first-round series, which Shaq called “cowardly.”

Five seconds into the season opener, Popovich had Michael Finley grab Shaq.

Popovich got the idea before the game from the East Valley Tribune’s Jerry Brown.

“Life’s short,” said Popovich, liking the sound of it. “We might as well enjoy ourselves. That’s a better suggestion than any of my coaches had all summer.”

O’Neal got the joke, exchanging thumbs-up signals with Popovich.

It’s still a farce the NBA should have stopped years ago, with all intentional fouling. What are they waiting for, someone doing it at the end of Game 7 of the Finals?


New sheriff in Gotham . . .

New York’s Eddy Curry, whose weight is estimated in the 275-375 range, was shocked to hear he isn’t in new Coach Mike D’Antoni’s rotation.

“It’s easy for me to go, ‘Yeah, OK, let’s let him do what he does so he doesn’t get mad,’ ” D’Antoni said. “But we have standards and we will keep them and expect everybody will.”

Of course, Curry might have started to get the idea his weight was becoming a problem in training camp when he sat on an exercise ball and it blew up.


. . .as if Gotham really cares

How wrong is this marriage: Friendly, boy-next-door beloved by all in Phoenix meets New York fans?

With D’Antoni benching Stephon Marbury in the opener, fans who had booed Marbury for years started chanting, “Steph! Steph!”

Even as other fans booed those fans, a TV camera caught an incredulous D’Antoni mouthing the words, “You’ve got to be . . . kidding me!”

This was in D’Antoni’s debut with the Knicks en route to 120 points as they beat Miami to go 1-0, their high point in years.

New President Donnie Walsh, liberalizing corporate boss James Dolan’s totalitarian regime, may have to resort to an old repressive tactic, ejecting fans who aren’t supportive.

Of course, all 19,000-plus may have to go.


Found: gig for Eddy -- oh, sorry

New Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra, obliged to start 6-8 Udonis Haslem at center, wants him to add five pounds to 235.

They could add 50-100 pounds just by acquiring Curry but they’re dumping salary and Curry has three years left at $31.5 million.

Nevertheless, there may be more cost-effective bulk out there: How about sumo wrestlers?

-- Mark Heisler