Skip to main content

Jermaine O'Neal shares why Dirk Nowitzki was the hardest to guard in the NBA

jermaine o neal copy

In his interview with Basketball Time Machine as part of the promotion of UNTOLD: Malice at the Palace Netflix documentary, Jermaine O'Neal shared the toughest player he had to defend and listed his top 5 players of all time. There were surprising exclusions and inclusions in his list.

Dirk Nowitzki hardest to defend

O'Neal played in the golden era of power forwards. He had to face the Tim Duncans, Dirk Nowitzki's, Chris Webbers, and Rasheed Wallaces of the NBA. He named the Dallas Mavericks legend as his most challenging assignment on defense.

Dirk is an all-time great and ranks 6th in scoring in the history of the NBA. These are valid reasons on their own, but Jermaine explained Nowitzki's ability to create shots on either leg, pull up jumpers even when out of balance, and high arching shots that are just too hard to block, make him hard to defend. O'Neal was quick on his feet and a great defender when he was still with the Indiana Pacers, making Dirk's choice even more special.

On the other hand, when asked who his top players are, it's surprising that the former Pacer did not include Nowitzki on his list after emphasizing why the shooter was the hardest to defend.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

MJ, Magic, KD, Barkley, and Hakeem

The Columbia, South Carolina native, was then asked to name his all-time players. O'Neal picks Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kevin Durant, and Charles Barkley on his list. MJ is MJ, and he will always be on top of anyone's list, so that's expected. Naming Magic Johnson as the starting point guard is not that surprising either. However, his choice for small and power forward could raise not a few eyebrows.

KD was chosen because of the way he played after recovering from a career-altering injury. He remained the same lethal scorer he has been in his career. The fact that he is still playing and is still in his prime shows Jermaine O'Neal's respect for the Brooklyn Nets star. Barkley is also a controversial pick given that O'Neal played in the same position; he knows who's who when it comes to the best power forward of all time. 

Charles Barkley is also a legend and even won an MVP. However, it's highly debatable if he is included in anyone's top 5 of all time. Hakeem Olajuwon's pick was also expected. Despite the abundance of great centers who played in the league, such as Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Hakeem's inclusion is justified. As O'Neal mentioned in the video, The Dream played like a ballerina, graceful and with flair in terms of his footwork and agility, which was rare for a big man.

The picks were a bit controversial and would stir up debates, but this top 5 was Jermaine O'Neal's choice, and he had all the reasons he chose them, even if it might sound surprising to others.

Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan

A business mogul breaks down Michael Jordan's earnings per shoe from Nike

5% seems measly, but once you get into the numbers, it's the secret behind the most successful shoe deal in sports history.

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, guard Stephen Curry and forward Kevin Durant

Reports say Warriors superstars are willing to welcome Kevin Durant back to Golden State

But Warriors management isn't willing to cross the bridge for Kevin Durant again.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter Freedom attacks NBA, Adam Silver once again — “One of the most hypocritical organization and commissioner out there”

The former Boston Celtic center thinks the NBA is not doing enough to help detained WNBA star Brittney Griner.

Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard and forward LeBron James

”He’s always watching the stat sheets” — Dwight Howard perfectly sums up LeBron James' brilliance on the court

Based on his experience, Dwight Howard said that he admires how strategic every move LeBron James makes is.

Golden State Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson

“Them motherf***ers ain't soft” — Iman Shumpert and JR Smith contradict the perception of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are often referred to as light skin by jealous competition and fanbases. Iman and JR put an end to that nonsense.

Ryan Blackburn on the Los Angeles Lakers - “Somehow, they’re going to get out of the Russell Westbrook contract for an All-Star talent”

NBA analyst Ryan Blackburn blasts the Los Angeles Lakers - “Somehow, they’re going to get out of the Russell Westbrook contract"

Blackburn says that despite the Lakers throwing away tons of draft picks and cap space, they are about to land one of the top guards in the game for in return for one of the worst contracts in the league

Milwaukee Bucks guard Oscar Robertson and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Oscar Robertson claims he could beat Kobe Bryant 1-on-1 — “I taught him basketball!”

Oscar Robertson thinks he could beat Kobe Bryant one-on-one. Here's why I think he's wrong.