Metta World Peace is definitely one of those players that name belongs among the best perimeter defenders of all time. On top of that, in his prime, Metta was capable of dropping 20-25 points on any team in the NBA and had all the tools to be a real two-way menace. Throughout his 16-year-long NBA career, Metta faced up against some of the greatest scorers in NBA history. Against some of them, he had more success than the others, and in a recent interview for a Called Game podcast, he talked about some of the toughest players he had to face throughout his career.
With his 6’7, 250-pound frame, Metta was incredibly mobile and fast, so you would think guarding LeBron James would be a somewhat easier assignment for Metta than for some other players. However, you would be wrong because Metta admitted he could never stop LeBron and has a lot of respect for him and how he plays the game.
He’s smart, and you have to idolize that. I always wanted to go to the game and stop him. He was literally one of the few guys I couldn’t stop when I wanted to. I had maybe a couple of good games, but he was one of the guys I definitely didn’t have his number. Some people say I did, but I just don’t see it.Metta World Peace, via Called Game
Metta mentioned Kobe Bryant as the other great player that he couldn’t figure out and stop, but also Kevin Durant, Vince Carter, and Tracy McGrady. He said he had a bit easier time against them even though they were great players in their own right. When playing against other great players, Metta’s mindset was to try and make them work on defense because he always knew he could score.
LeBron and Kobe were the hardest. When Durant got older, he became really difficult. When he was younger, not as much. With Vince, it was half-half. He would have some good games, and then I would have some. Tracy sometimes would get his 30 pieces, and then sometimes I would have my games.Metta World Peace, via Called Game
After giving some thought to this question, Metta mentioned a name that might sound surprising to many fans because he remembers Richard Hamilton as equally challenging as Kobe and LeBron. However, Metta admits he never had the answer for Rip, a great shooter but also a very intelligent player that was in constant motion looking for opportunities to score. Even though he was never the first option on offense on the teams he played for, Rip was underrated in many regards, and it’s excellent Metta mentioned his name.
Richard Hamilton was a tough one because he would just run. I don’t think I ever had his number. Maybe I got him a couple of games, but for the most part, he was difficult. He was just as tough to me as Kobe and LeBron. Rip can play ball, he is doing his thing, and we don’t hear about it much, but he was tough. He was a winner, winning in college and the NBA. He has this control of the game nobody has. He was making everyone work, and if you switched on Rip, you are going to be working. He is a special player.Metta World Peace, via Called Game
It’s always a great piece of information when great NBA players like Metta openly discuss which players were a real challenge for them. Players themselves are usually too competitive and will rarely admit when someone is better than them, so hearing names Metta mentions really puts even more respect for their greatness. When one of the best defenders in NBA history admits he doesn’t know how to stop you, that means a lot and is the ultimate respect one competitor can give to another.