Shawn Marion, a.k.a. The Matrix, was one of the most versatile forwards in the NBA and one of the most underrated players in the league during his time. Marion made a guest appearance on The Players Tribune, where he talked about some of the toughest players he had to guard in his 16-year-long career, and surprisingly enough, the first name that came to his mind was Jamal Mashburn.
Jamal Mashburn is another forward that doesn’t get much love from the NBA fans, but in his prime, Mashburn was a walking bucket capable of dropping 20-25 points against any team in the NBA. Marion remembers Mashburn as one of the league’s craftiest players, who didn’t really on his athleticism but mostly on his impeccable skillset. Even though he was by NBA standards slow, he was highly effective and always found numerous ways to score the ball.
When I first came in, I was like 215 pounds, little and young, so when I was coming up, I was just excited to be here. I get caught up with Jamal Mashburn. I love Jamal Mashburn. If you don’t know Jamal Mashburn, he had one of the smoothest games when he played. He wasn’t a highflyer; he wasn’t one of those guys that would put you in awe, but what he did was that he was slow and could bust your ass.Shawn Marion, The Players Tribune
Marion, of course, mentioned other greats that gave him problems on defense like Kobe, Jordan, Carmelo, LeBron. On top of that, Marion’s versatility was at full display when the league introduced the small-ball concept in which he had to guard power forwards. That is why he appreciates Duncan, Garnett, and Rasheed Wallace as some of the most talented big men in the league at that time.
I also had to guard Kobe. I did guard MJ, I had MJ on his way out, but it was still MJ, so don’t get it twisted. I had to guard bigger guys at one point in my career. Early on in my career, I was a true small forward, but when we went to small ball, I started guarding every position. Power forward was the most dominant position in the league, and I had to guard Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace. All the big guys were good at that time, and it wasn’t easy for me, but I have to give it to those guys. I had to guard LeBron; he was a handful. Carmelo was a handful because of how he played the game. Don’t get it twisted because when I’m guarding these guys, it was cool cause I’m giving them work on the other end as well. They are getting whooping on the other end.Shawn Marion, The Players Tribune
It’s always interesting to hear what other players, especially highly regarded defenders like Marion, have to say about their experience when playing against the NBA’s best players at that time. Out of all the players he mentioned, Mashburn is the most surprising name there, even though true fans remember how great he was in his prime, especially during his early days with the Dallas Mavericks.