It takes a lot to be able to still play the game of basketball into your 40s.
You have to be a team leader, in some sort of physical shape, and a high basketball IQ. Or in one players' case, you just have to be the coach and activate yourself to play a game. In today's game, the understanding of the body and rest in prolonging a lot of players careers. This list is sure to be extended in the coming years with players like Manu Ginobili continuing to play or Jason Terry. And in the future this list could be so much longer. On this list there is everything from a single game played, to great role players who were great at being role players, to the greatest to ever play the game. It is hard to come across older players in the league, but I truly believe we are not too far away from seeing this list extended with some truly great players going the list.
Here are the oldest players to ever lace it up for the NBA.
25 Nat Hickey: 45 Years, 363 Days
Nat Hickey Played from 1921-1942 and played one game in1948, which gets him on this list.
Nat is also the oldest player on this list by well over a year. He did win the ABL Championship back in 1926 and is the only hardware that he collected. He even played before they kept points stats. They only stats I could find on him was for the 1948 game when he played and he shot at missed six times and made two out of three free throws. During his career, he played on 10 different teams. He was even a coach for seven years on five different team. Nat holds the record for the oldest person to play a game but that is about the only reason he makes the list.
Nat died on September 16, 1979, at the age of 77.
24 Charles Jones: 41 Years, 30 Days
Charles Jones played from 1979-1998.
Jones was able to capture an NBA Championship in 1995. He played for five teams in his 15 seasons of play. He never really had great numbers though. On his career, he averaged 2.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. Worse than that, in his last three season, he averaged 0.4 points. Jones was nothing more than a role player throughout the entirety of his career. However, because he found a way to be so useful on those team, he found a way to stay in the league for a very long time. Probing that you do not always need to be a big time scorer to stick around in the NBA.
Charles Jones in now 60 years old, alive and well.
23 Danny Schayes: 40 Years, 3 Days
Danny Schayes played in the NBA from 1981-1999.
Danny was never a feared or a stellar basketball player. Never winning a championship, getting an All-Star selection, or be named to any All-NBA or Defensive team. He averaged 7.7 points and 5.0 rebounds in his career. Really not great numbers. Standing at 6’11” he played center, and was a first-round draft pick. He played on seven different teams during his playing time, most notably on the Denver Nuggets, where he played his best seasons. While playing in Denver he averaged 13.9 rebounds and 8.2 rebounds. He retired shortly after the NBA lockout season.
Danny is now 58 and hasn’t been up too much since his retirement.
22 Kurt Thomas: 40 Years, 165 Days
Kurt Thomas played from 1999-2013.
Kurt Thomas suffered a lot of injuries during his playing time. Having shortened seasons in 10 out of his 18 seasons. He played on nine different teams in that time. The shortest was with Dallas as he only played five games with them before suffering a right ankle stress factor. He was put on the injured reserved and never saw another day in a Mavs jersey. He played his best years in New York where they went to the Eastern Conference Finals twice and the Finals once. He was a huge help in the playoffs for the Knicks team while helping them out along the way.
Now at the age of 44, he is just living a happy life on his own.
21 Herb Williams: 41 Years, 129 Days
Herb Williams played from 1981-1999.
Herb averaged 10.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in his career. During his career he played on four different teams. Most notably and productively was on the Indiana Pacers between 1981 and 1989. On the Pacers he averaged 14.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks. Clearly his best season in the league. After playing for Dallas for a few years he returned to the Knicks where he played with them till they made it back to the Finals in 1994. He then played for the Raptors for one game, playing 31 minutes before being waived and returning to the Knicks. He played with them through 1999 when he retired.
Williams is now 59 years old and after serving as an assistant coach for 11 years with the Knicks, he is now an assistant coach in the WNBA.
20 Kevin Willis: 44 Years, 224 Days
Kevin Willis Played from 1984-2007.
Willis was selected to the All-Star Team and an All-NBA team in 1992. He went on to win a championship in 2003 with the San Antonio Spurs. In his 23 years of playing, he averaged 12.1 points and 8.4 rebounds. He averaged a double-double in seven different seasons. He had a great career which is what helped his longevity in order to still be playing at 44 years of age. He retired for a season and then signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks in 2007. He was named the 12th man for the Mavs playoff run but didn’t play a single game in the shocking first round exit.
Willis is still alive at age 54 and is working with the company he founded in 1988 “Willis & Walker” which specializes in custom wear for big and tall men.
19 Cliff Robinson: 40 Years, 147 Days
Cliff Robinson played from 1989-2007.
Cliff was never able to gain a championship. He did, however, earn the Sixth Man of the Year in 1993. He was also selected to the NBA All-Defensive team twice (2000, 2002). And he was made an All-Star in 1994. For a man drafted in the second round (36th overall) he certainly had some staying power. Averaging 14.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks. His team made the playoffs all but one year in his 18 seasons. He played 1,380 games played puts him at 8th most all-time in NBA history.
Cliff Robinson is currently 50 years old and hasn’t done too much sense retiring. In 2014 he was named to a team put together by Dennis Rodman as part of an exhibition game to be played against the North Korean Senior National Team in celebration of Kim Jong-un.
18 John Long: 40 Years, 235 days
John Long played from 1978-1997.
This second round pick, out of the University of Detroit, had a very long playing career. He was his best through his first nine years of play. After that, he had a huge falling off, but he still made his presence felt. He was traded to the Bad Boy Pistons in 1989 where he was supposed to be the running mate with Isaiah Thomas. Unfortunately, Joe Dumars would take that role and Long would be placed at the back up to them. He did win a championship with that team, averaging 9.7 points and 1.5 rebounds.
Long is now 60 years old and is a radio analyst for the Detroit Pistons.
17 James Edwards: 40 years, 187 Days
James Edwards played from 1977-1996.
James was quite the player as he averaged 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks. Really very good numbers. He also won three championships during his playing years. Twice with the Pistons and once with the Bulls. Standing at 7’1” he was a very threatening player. And his killer fade away, that was nearly unblockable, made him quite the offensive threat. He played a huge role in the 1990 playoffs for the Pistons, starting most of those game. He made an impact as he averaged 14.3 points and 3.6 rebounds. Although, he mostly added a physical and fearsome presence, that the Bad Boy Pistons were known for.
Edwards is now 61 years old and living happily.
16 Andre Miller: 41 Years, 54 Days
Andre Miller started playing in 1999 and is still in the league today.
Miller averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.2 steals. Miller has played on 9 different team in the NBA. Currently ninth all-time in assists. At 1,304 games he is 19th in games played. In those 17 seasons he has only missed 3 games due to injury which makes him an incredibly durable player. Too top it off, he is the only player in NBA history to have at least 16,000 points, 8,000 steals, and 1,500 steals without making an all start game. He made the rookie-team in 2000 and was the NBA assist leader in 2002 with 10.9 assists per game.
At 41 years old he is still balling with the young folks and if he stays with the Spurs he just might be able to win a championship.
15 Juwan Howard: 40 Years, 69 Days
Juwan Howard played from 1994-2013.
Though he does have a long playing career, with some hardware racked up, he is more known for his college days playing as a part of the Fab Five. He is the only member of the Fab Five to win an NBA Championship. He won a championship along with LeBron James in 2012 and 2013. In 1996 he received his lone All-Star play and also made his only All-NBA team. During his career, he averages 13.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. He was known for his ability to post up, pass the ball, hit a 17-foot jumper, and play lockdown defense. Which is not a bad reputation to have in the NBA.
Juwan is now 44 and an assistant coach for the Miami Heat.
14 Rick Mahorn: 40 Years, 244 Days
Rick Mahorn played from 1980-1999.
Mahorn was part of the Bad Boy Pistons in 1989. The Pistons announcer named him the, “Baddest of them all.” He was also selected to the All-Defensive team in 1990. His career averages weren’t that impressive with numbers on 6.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks. But he was more than just numbers, he was a team leader. He joined Charles Barkley in Philly to form a high rebounding duo called “Thump N’ Bump.” He played on a few other team before finally retiring in 1999.
At the ripe age of 58, Mahorn can now be heard doing the color commentary for the Pistons radio alongside Mark Champion
13 Charles Oakley: 40 Years, 106 Days
Charles Oakley played from 1985-2004.
Charles has always been seen as one of the best rebounders in NBA history. He never won a championship but not for lack of trying. He did get an All-Star Selection, 2x All-Defensive Team, and made the All-Rookie Team. His career averages are 9.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. But mostly he will be remembered for his physical dominance. He always made sure he was felt everywhere he went and you knew that he was going to be playing hard and hitting you hard. He was part of the Knicks team where they played a record 25 playoff games and he personally holds the record for most regular season and playoff games in a singles season with 107.
Charles Oakley is now 53 years old and held an assistant coaching position for the Charlotte Bobcats, but due to health concerns, he had to leave.
12 12.Vince Carter: 40 Years, 131 Days
Vince Carter started playing in 1998 and is currently playing for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Vinsanity. Half-Man Half-Amazing. Air Canada. Vince is an amazing player still to this day. Early in his career he dazzled us with his high-flying circus acts. He has career averages of 18.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.3 assists. Has yet to win a championship, but if he can continue to play at the efficient rate that he did this season, he can find his way to the right team and be a great contributor to their championship efforts. He is an 8x All-star, two-time All-NBA selection, Rookie of the Year, and All-Rookie team. Playing on six different teams he made it very far into the playoffs a few times but never really could finish it off.
Vince Carter at 40 years of age was big in the Grizzlies playoff push and run this season, and will do it again next season.
11 Grant Hill: 40 Years, 210 Days
Grant Hill started playing in 1994 and retired in 2013.
This first round draft pick is one of the best to ever do it. On his career, he has averages of 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. His first six seasons with the Pistons where his most notable as he averaged 21.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. Then next 12 were mostly injury plagued and his numbers saw a huge dip in his numbers but he was still a very productive player. He is a seven-time All-Star, five-time All-NBA, made the All-Rookie Team, and won Co-Rookie of the Year (shared with Jason Kidd). After 19 seasons, and a year with the Clippers, he finally retired.
Now at the age of 44, he is currently an owner of the Atlanta Hawks.
10 Robert Parish: 43 Years, 254 Days
Robert Parish played from 1976-1997.
In over 20 years of basketball, he made his name known and presence felt. He got averages of 14.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. His awards include being a four-time champion, nine-time All-Star, two-time All-NBA selection, and his number is retired by the Celtics. He has the NBA record for most games played in his career with 1,611 games. He is also top-30 All-time in scoring, rebounding, blocking, turnovers, and minutes played. Due to his long playing time and his ability to do it at such a high level which makes him the oldest person to ever win an NBA championship.
Parish is now 63 and is a consultant and mentor for current Celtics big men.
9 Jason Kidd: 40 Years, 56 Days
Jason Kidd played from 1994-2013.
From a first round draft pick to becoming a champion to a bench player for the Knicks. Jason Kidd has done it all in the league. His list of accolades is quite long. He is a champion (2011), ten-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA Selection, nine-time All-Defensive selection, NBA Co-Rookie of the Year (shared with Grant Hill), and a five-time Assist Leader. He was the Nets best player for a long time and got his number retired by them. His ability to pass and rebound made him a constant triple-double threat. He ranks third all time in trouble-doubles during the regular season with 107 and second in the playoffs with 11. He finished his career second time in assists and steals and seventh in field goals made.
Jason Kid at 44 years of age coached the Nets for 1 really bad season and now is doing amazing things with the Milwaukee Bucks.
8 John Stockton: 41 Years, 35 Days
John Stockton played from 1984-2003.
John has always and always will be regarded as one of the best point guards to ever play the game. He has career averages of 13.1 points, 10.5 assists, and 2.5 steals. To average a double-double you have to be one of the best to ever do it. Being so great he obviously has a long list of accolades. He is a; twn-time All-Star (he won the All-Star MVP once), eleven-time All-NBA Selection, five-time All-Defensive Team Selection, nine-time NBA assist leader, two-time NBA steals leader, and got is number retired by the Jazz where he spent his whole career. He holds the record for the most career assists and steals, and he hold that lead by a considerably wide margin.
John is now 55 and was an assistant coach for a college team, but has not been up too much recently.
7 Steve Nash: 40 Years, 60 Days
Steve Nash played from 1996-2015.
Steve is another great player on this list who always failed to add a championship to his record. Although he had averages of 14.3 points and 8.5 assists, it was never enough to bring home the biggest trophy. He is a 2two-time MVP, eight-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA Selection, five-time assist leader, four-time member of the 50-40-90 club, and his number is retired by the Suns. Most notably he played for the Suns with Amare Stoudemire and dominated the league with his great shooting and passing ability. Most forgettable he played with the Lakers in his last “lost tape” years along-side Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant. He is a flashy and consistent player and his ability to always make the players around him better is what led to his ability to play so long into his career.
Steve Nash is now 43 years old and is a co-owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps and the GM for the Canadian men’s national basketball team.
6 Dikembe Mutombo: 42 Years, 300 Days
Dikembe Mutombo played from 1991-2009.
No, No, No. Mutombo from the DR Congo, is the second most prolific shot blocker in NBA history, right behind Hakeem Olajuwon. In his career, he averaged 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks. His awards are; eight-time All-Star, three-time All-NBA Team, six-time All-Defensive team, All-Rookie team, and he is a four-time Defensive Player of the Year winner. He played on 6 different teams and did very well on all of them. Another great player who could never earn a championship despite his efforts and commitment to solid play. He averaged a double-double for most of his seasons and finished 12th all-time in career double-doubles. And he finished second all-time in triples doubles involving points, rebounds, and blocks.
Mutombo is now 50 and has been doing a lot of humanitarian work.
5 Karl Malone: 40 Years, 325 Days
Karl Malone played from 1985-2004.
The Mailman was one of the best to ever do it without winning a ring. He was John Stockton’s running mate and they make quite the pair during their playing days. Malone was able to have averages of 25.0 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. A double-double machine and a threat to destroy you on any given night. His long stay in the league and great play got him quite the hardware to hang up in his house. His awards include being a two-time League MVP, 1fourteen-time All-Star (two-time All-Star MVP), fourteen-time All-NBA selection, four-time All-Defensive selection, All-Rookie Team, and his number is retired by the Jazz. Without a doubt he was a great player and a well-deserved Hall of Famer.
Malone, now at the age of 53, was an assistant coach for a college team and hasn’t done much since.
4 Bob Cousy: 41 Years, 150 Days
Bob Cousy played from 1950-1970.
Cousy is another player who is widely regarded as one of the best players to run the point guard position, although over looked by some because he played when there were not that many teams in the league. Bob still had a great career with averages of 18.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 7.5 assists. But his hardware tells more of the story. He is a 6x champion, an MVP, thirteen-time All-Star, twelve-time All-NBA Selection, eight-time NBA assists leader, and his number is retired by the Celtics. His mastery of the ball, both passing and handling, earned him the well-deserved nickname of, “The Houdini of the Hardwood.”
Cousy is now 88 and did a number of things after retiring including coaching and becoming a broadcaster.
3 Tim Duncan: 40 Years, 17 Days
Tim Duncan played from 1997-2016.
The Big Fundamental is the greatest power forward to ever play this game. A gutsy statement but few can debate it. With averages of 19.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.2 blocks he always but the Spurs on his back. Not once in his 19 years did he ever miss the playoffs. His awards include five-time NBA Champion, three-time Finals MVP, two-time NBA MVP, fifteen-time All-Star, fifteen-time All-NBA Selection, 1fifteen-time All-Defensive Team, and he won Rookie of the Year. He finished his career Top-15 in blocks, points, rebounding, turnovers, and minutes played in the regular season. He also finished Top-10 in points, rebounding, and turnovers. He also finished first in blocks for the playoffs. This resume is a tough one to top and he will go down as one of the greatest players to ever do it.
Tim Duncan is now 41 years of age and serves as a part-time assistant coach and consultant.
2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 42 Years, 6 Days
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played from 19699-1989.
Kareem is widely regarded as one of the best centers in the history of the league, and some call him the best player in NBA history. It is highly deserved as he has career averages of 24.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks. He is currently ranked 3rd All-Time in rebounds and blocks. Most notably known for his invention of the sky hook which is one of the most un-blockable shots ever. His awards include; 6x NBA Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 6x League MVP, 19x All-Star, 15x All-NBA, 11x All-Defensive team, Rookie of the Year, 2x Scoring Champ, 4x Rebounding Leader, NBA Rebounding Champ, and his jersey is retired by both the Bucks and the Lakers. If you ever question the greatness of Kareem, take a trip to the Staples Center and look at his statue sitting out front.
Now at age 70, he has served as a special assistant coach for the Lakers, and though had an interest in being a head coach, he never got his chance.
1 Michael Jordan: 40 Years, 58 Days
Michael Jordan played from 1984-1993. He then played again from 1995-1998. And once more from 2001-2003.
Michael Jordan is the greatest to ever do it. Don’t believe me? Well who do we always compare great players too? We always say, “Is he better than MJ?” That type of comparison shows me that he truly is the best to ever lace them up. In his play time he has; six-time NBA Championship, six-time Finals MVP, five-time NBA MVP, fourteen-time All-Star, eleven-time All-NBA, Defensive Player of the Year, nine-time All-Defensive Team, Rookie of the Year, 10x scoring champ, three-time NBA steal leader, and his jersey is retired by the Bulls and the Heat. The heat is actually funny because Pat Riley was MJ’s coach when he won those championships, and when the Bull’s played in Miami one year, Pat Retired his number for there as well. MJ holds the record for the averaging the highest points over his career at 30.1 per game. His true dominance over the league and those who stood in his way is what makes him stand out and be the greatest to ever do it.
Michael Jordan is now 54 years old and is the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets.