After decades of toil, the NBA finally reached the second round last weekend. No, it only seems like it took the Spurs ten years of servitude to fitfully put the Supersonics to rest.

Now we enter the Eastern and Western Conference Semis, the place where the big boys bang in the lane and the superstars strut with diamonds the size of grapefruits that droop on their ear lobes after games.

The second round is here, and it’ll probably stick around for a while, until most of us are ready for the conference finals.

Forget Shaq’s scratch. I’m interested in what’s going on outside the playoffs.

Allen Iverson squabbling with Larry Brown? Tim “Choir Boy Dos” Duncan gift-wrapped an MVP trophy by an overanxious David Stern? Jerry West moving to the city of the Hall of Fame … the Country Music Hall of Fame, that is? The NBA Logo Crying Man couldn’t make it to Springfield, Massachusetts. It’s too cold in the east. What … you mean there’s no beach in Memphis? The Mississippi River? Hot Diggity Dang!

Yao Ming in Chicago? Yao Ming in Oaktown? Yao Ming nominated for President of Manute Bol Weight Watchers Fan Club by none other than … Shawn “Corn Dog on a Stick” Bradley? Yao Ming versus Terrell Owens in the junior circuit?

“My problems with Allen have been the same for six years,” Brown said Saturday in an AP report. “I love him, his competitiveness. I’m proud of the way he tries in every game.”

I think if Danny Ferry hoisted 33 shots a game, he might be able to make nine of them, too.

“The issues are things he has control over and he’ll have a problem with me if he doesn’t take care of it.”

You’ve got the problem, A.I.: They should call you the Problem, not the Answer, ’cause all you do is give me headaches. I’ll make your head spin so many times that if you ever think about coming back to Philly, you’ll wish that you were running circles for John Thompson!

“He has to be at practice. He has to set an example.”

Let me show you an example: that door there is sturdy, yet able to move when I tell it to. So don’t let it hit you on your way out.

Center and humanitarian Dikembe Mutombo offered a truce.

“We’re all human,” Mutombo said. Mutombo is the man. The 7’2″ fellow Georgetown product speaks more languages than digits Iverson can count to.

Early reports have Duncan capturing the league MVP from Jason Kidd, T-Mac and Shaq. Duncan as MVP? That’s like having Oscar the Grouch hosting the MTV movie awards. Duncan had a fine regular season, but Kidd transformed the stinky and lottery-bogged Nets into the top dog in the east. Marbury’s languishing in the Phoenix desert, contemplating how many more franchises he can destroy.

West in Memphis. Never thought I’d see the day, though I’ll be surprised if he survives more than two years. Jason Williams is about as in control as Jeffrey Dahmer on a freshly stocked Headhunter Island from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Pau Gasol will be fine, but everyone else is a head-case or a no-talent.

And Yao Ming. I’ll keep an eye out on him: he’s either Rik Smits with a strawberry smoothie jumper or Manute Bol getting his head peeled like a banana by Shaq & Co. I’ll wait ’til next year to make any rash judgements. And this time, I’ll make no promises on the Timberwolves.