by Marcel Mutoni

-Maybe the League isn’t as out of touch with its fans as we sometimes make it out to be: Rumor has it that they’re not going to make us suffer through another Kobe/Shaq Christmas.

After three years, the NBA nd ABC wisely concluded the novelty has worn off Shaq vs. Kobe/Heat vs. Lakers on Christmas. Instead, word is the NBA will have the Heat play in Cleveland on Christmas, creating a Dwyane Wade vs. LeBron James matchup.

-There’s a fancy new gym in L.A. that’s attracting some of the best talent in the country.

-Today’s refs aren’t very good at their jobs. In other news: water is wet, and the sky is blue.

The former NBA official, widely regarded as one of the league’s best referees over 26 seasons until his retirement in 2002, said the Tim Donaghy fiasco results at least partly from Stern’s systemic failures, and what Mathis said is the league’s “policy” of putting cronyism ahead of competency.

“The NBA has a good ol’ boy system that nobody talks about,” he said in an interview. “They hire friends and friends of friends. . . .particularly in the case of hiring referee supervisors.

“This has been waiting to go off. Ask people in the league. Stern is holding the key to all hiring. The things that matter — hiring, teaching, accountability — if they were executed properly, this wouldn’t have happened.”

(Yes, that’s all fine and well, but I can’t shake the feeling that even if you hire the most qualified guy in the world, he could still have – or develop – a gambling problem which spirals completely out of control.)

One more ‘Tim Donaghy sucks at life’ story won’t hurt will it?