Dahntay Jones was cut from the same cloth as Bruce Bowen, PJ Tucker, and Marcus Smart. He was not afraid to put everything on the line, even if that meant getting extra physical and borderline dirty in some defensive assignments - that means Jones always got the opponent's best player as his matchup.
The names on his "toughest to guard" list are expected, but the order might surprise more than a few people.
Vinsanity, Black Mamba, and King James
Dahntay Jones retired in 2017. While he’s not known for his offense, what fans remember about him is his tenacious defense. In an interview with Gilbert Arenas, Jones named the players he had most trouble guarding and explained why.
“Vince Carter. Because Vince was probably the most talented basketball player I’ve ever played in my entire life. He can do everything. Could do what your favorite scorers could do. Was the most athletic person you probably ever see in your life. If Vince is having a bad day, you’re in trouble.”
The second guy on Dahntay's list is LeBron James. His combination of basketball IQ, which means ”Bron controls the whole game,” speed, and strength made him impassible to stop. “I hit Bron on a fastbreak one time and I am not a weak individual but I put everything I had to and I bounced off him like a little kid. LeBron once he’s locked in, you’re at his mercy.” In third place, who else than Kobe Bryant.
”After that, Kobe. The triangle made it so tough to push him in places. Like one-on-one, he’d put you in islands. He gets every foul call. He’s super gifted. He played the game so cerebrally. And he got no conscience, too.”
Very interesting points Jones was able to raise there. He mentioned the qualities of each player and what made them a tough assignment. VC was just gifted naturally and an athletic freak. Kobe was a student of the game who utilized all opportunities to gain an advantage. Meanwhile, James’ height, heft, and skills make him unstoppable.
Dahntay also shed light on his feud with Kobe Bryant over a foul resulting in an ankle injury for the L.A. Lakers star.
Dahntay Jones vs. Kobe Bryant
Kobe and Jones traded barbs on Twitter over a play that resulted in an ankle injury. At that time, the Lakers were fighting for a position in the Western Conference standings, and Kobe’s injury put their future in peril.
Jones entered Kobe’s landing spot, and if it happened today, it would have been called a flagrant foul. But the refs missed their chance. The Black Mamba called the play dirty on his Twitter.
In the interview with Arenas, Jones clarified that it was not intentional, and he had the highest respect for Kobe Bryant and even grew up idolizing him. However, there were several incidents where Jones fouled Kobe intending to hurt him even before that.
Dahntay Jones may have crossed the thin line between tough defense and being dirty when he was still playing. But kudos to him for clarifying things and showing respect where it's due.