Known as the X-Man throughout his career in the league though I’d prefer to call him “The Beast,” – Xavier McDaniel began his journey in the NBA with the Seattle Super Sonics in 1985, however, he gained even more notoriety during his time with the New York Knicks.
McDaniel was a tough, trash talking, gritty player who welcomed physical confrontation among any player in the league. He went toe-to-toe with Charles Oakley in 1989, he also challenged Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen during the 1992 Eastern Conference Playoffs. Xavier McDaniel was known throughout the league as a tough guy, and if you weren’t a member of his team you were a target for destruction.
In my opinion Allen Iverson added another dimension to the point guard position with his no fear, no respect attitude. He spoke his mind and he rolled with an entourage as big as a small town in Arkansas.
His “killer crossover” on Micheal Jordan was the moment that set his path and catapulted his career in the NBA, from then on, ball players from all across the country were adapting and mimicking his ball handling skills. Iverson is one of the only players in the league that you could take seriously as both an NBA player and a rapper (remember Jewels 40-Bars?), –sick verse in my opinion. Iverson is the starting guard of the Goon Squad and I challenge you to find a list of point guards who are as battled tested as Allen Iverson.
Metta World Peace / Ron Artest
Metta is the modern day version of Dennis Rodman – similar toughness but less overall skill. Metta is the type of player you should avoid heckling because he will definitely send you out on a stretcher if the NBA allowed that sort of barbaric behavior.
Metta has been involved in team/fan brawls and he has dropped a number of NBA players to the hard wood floor with his version of “The Peoples Elbow.” While he’s not the greatest rapper in the world, Metta is one of the better defenders in the league when it comes to getting down and dirty in the paint.
Arguably the most powerful and dominant center to ever play in the NBA. During his prime, Shaquille O’Neal offensively destroyed over 90 percent of the NBA centers in the league.
I can honestly say that I felt embarrassed for most of the players who were forced to guard O’Neal. Defending Shaquille O’Neal is like being forced to fight a bear – you’re definitely going to lose, and more than likely you’re going get eaten. O’Neal was an NBA wrecking ball; he brought the house down and left many NBA players buried under the debris. More notably, Shaq was the only player in the league to have a successful hip hop career – off the court he was Dr. Jekyll but on the court he was Mr. Hyde.
The uncrowned king of trash-talk and according to Joakim Noah “He’s a really angry guy.”
Kevin Garnett is another player who will do or say whatever it takes to gain the competitive edge on the opposition. If you’re sensitive to mama jokes and sharp elbows, perhaps you should call in sick before stepping on the court against KG.
Garnett is despised throughout the league as being a “dirty player” but respected by most because of his mental toughness, defensive ability, in-game intensity, and most of all his passion for the game. Kevin Garnett is the prototype of an team anchor and floor leader. Overall he’s one of the toughest players to ever play the game, but most of all, he’s a trash-talking goon.
LeBron James Disliked by many, scorned by Cleveland Cavalier fans, and so-called “Heat Haters” across the country, however one thing is certain, Lebron James is as tough a player you will find across any position in the NBA.
James is a premier defender who’s not afraid to mix it up with the big boys down low. He’s a nightmare to guard because he can perform efficiently from any position on the court. While he’s known for flopping occasionally, he’s also known to leave tire tracks on the upper torso of players who mindlessly attempt to stop him in transition. Physically, James is stacked, powerful, mean, and he demands a double-team in the low-post against most guards in the league.
I feel more than comfortable with the list of players I have selected as members of the “Goon Squad.” If you created an all-time toughest players team, who would be listed? Share your thoughts.