Contrary to public opinion, Kobe‘s still the same. He never changed, never mellowed or dried himself up. He’s still arrogant, cocky, believing he can’t be stopped, won’t ever be made mortal. Somewhere along the way, LeBron took his place as the most hated in the game…expected actually, because every great player has to go through this. It all peaked last summer. LeBron, the guy who was always fun-loving, down-to-earth, adored by his teammates, the class clown, the young kid who was mature beyond his years, who took all of the attention in stride, is on his own stand now, belted constantly by people who believe he’s too full of himself. But yesterday, Dallas’ Ian Mahinmi, the Human Foul, told Basket USA: “Kobe is super arrogant but everybody loves him. To me, Kobe is more arrogant than (LeBron James).” At the height of their Most Hated days, who do you think had it worse? … Now that we’ve started our one-on-one tournament with the 16 best soloists in the L, the first round will continue the rest of the week with two matchups a day. Winners will be announced in Smack so stay tuned. We might be in for an upset already … Andrew Bynum is continuing his quest to reinvent himself as the NBA’s Million Dollar Baby this summer. The Big Elbow, who found himself in some trouble for a few cheap shots he threw this year at both Michael Beasley and J.J. Barea, tweeted: i hope yall had a great 4th! I just got done with 2 hours of ring work! I’m tried as hell!! and I got a two a day tomorrow first road work in the morning, then back in the ring in the afternoon! I’m going hard yall! … Best moment yesterday was Dirk telling Der Spiegel, a German publication, that he doesn’t do well with all the added spotlight from the championship, admitting he isn’t cut out for moments like that: “Well, at the very least I don’t behave terribly competently. I feel ashamed when the entire focus is on me. I think people can see that. In public appearances, I am stiff as a board.” That’s like saying Public Enemy‘s stage performances sucked. Nowitzki will never live down his epic “We are the champions” chants. Never … Miraculously, Rudy Fernandez will be staying in the NBA, turning down a huge offer to go back home, become a rock star again and play in front of the Spanish fans. This means we don’t want to hear anymore complaining from Fernandez’s camp about not fitting in, not getting time, no one appreciating him. He had threatened to leave for the last few years and instead stayed. He’s got to be thinking the same thing we are: that he’ll thrive in Dallas … Over the weekend, Dale Ellis told the Boston Globe that he still believes he’s the best shooter of all-time. While it’s never fun to hear old-timers talk like that (most of them are just in denial, tired and angry, or all three), Ellis was the truth (sixth all-time in threes made). He’s definitely in the conversation. Our top five shooters of all-time: Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Mark Wahlberg, Larry Bird and Shooter McGavin … The Indiana Pacers will officially announce the promotion of Frank Vogel to full-time head coach today. Vogel was a revelation as Indiana’s interim head coach during the second half of last season, and in the playoffs helped the Pacers give the top-seeded Bulls all they could handle. When we last talked with Danny Granger, he was confident Indiana was moving in the right direction with Vogel. And now apparently, everyone is … If you missed it yesterday, DeMarcus Cousins spent his holiday weekend picking up a T in a summer league game. We can’t say we are surprised … Gilbert Arenas meanwhile, spent his holiday having to watch fireworks from a couple of blocks away because he’s on probation … Kemba Walker is the first player from this draft class to get a shoe deal, signing yesterday with Under Armour. Who’s next? Anyone? … And as long as he is healthy, Dirk says he will play for Germany in next month’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Lithuania … We’re out like the Casey Anthony verdict.
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