Professional athletes are the the most fierce competitors in the world. This ultra competitiveness is something that allows some players such as Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, among others, to succeed as all-time greats and leave the fans with many joyous memories.
But sometimes this level of competitiveness leads to a sense of entitlement and confidence that sticks around long after their talent begins to fade away. The same competitiveness that once produced legendary plays often leads aging players into extending their careers too long and ultimately winds up as an uninspiring ending to a once great career, a sad tale that has happened to plenty of NBA greats.
Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan both fell victim to their own competitive spirits. Kobe fought through countless injuries at the end of his career to have a very lackluster final season with the Lakers, while Jordan attempted a comeback with the Washington Wizards at the age of 38.
Every season there are players that fall under the category of, "he should just retire already." Whether it's because of age, injuries, or just diminishing talent/athleticism, the 15 players on this list should strongly consider retirement after the 2016-17 season.
15 Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett is over the hill. Not hypothetically, he's officially over the hill after turning 40 years old this past May. Garnett is currently mulling over whether he will return for his 21st season or not, but many believe he will lace em up one last time.
The Timberwolves are a young up and coming team, but this is still very much a rebuilding season for them. With young stars such as Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins, KG will be a needed veteran presence. If Garnett ever wants to take up coaching after his playing career is finished, this would be the perfect scenario for him to start gaining experience.
KG is one of the most dominant players of his generation, but unfortunately for him his generation is about to start collecting social security benefits soon. KG we love you, but please give it up already.
14 Matt Barnes
Who else hates this guy? He's one of the last true villains left in the league that completely accepts the bad boy role. Every team needs a tough guy (although Sacramento already has the hot-headed DeMarcus Cousins) but Barnes' issue is that his toughness is all he brings to the table nowadays.
Barnes had his limelight, most notably when he was with the Lakers, but it is time for him to hang it up. Inexplicably teams continue to give him a roster spot though and who is he to pass up the money? Barnes should do us all a favor and announce that he will retire after the 2016-17 season. However, Barnes is so delusional and drenched in narcissism that he would probably expect a retirement tour a la Kobe Bryant. Please let this be your last season Mr. Barnes, we are begging you.
13 Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce (aka "The Truth") is a living legend in the NBA. However, watching him hobble around the court in Los Angeles nowadays is reminiscent to the first time watching Jurassic Park. The guy is a dinosaur in term of NBA years and it's apparent in his style of play now.
Pierce is still effective as a reserve player but his role with the Clippers appears to be more of an effort to keep a playoff proven veteran on the roster. Although the Clippers are built to compete for a championship this year, Pierce will not be a major contributor.
It would be amazing to see the Boston Celtics to make a trade for Pierce this season to bring added depth during their playoff run. No matter what occurs, Pierce will retire as a member of the Boston Celtics and eventually enter their ring of honor, along with the NBA Hall of Fame.
12 Steve Blake
Never a flashy player, Blake has still been able to put together a solid 13 year NBA career. Blake was always a commendable player off the bench for teams and was very reliable with his safe and consistent style of play. However, his game had diminished to the point that he is now a liability when having to guard the young, quick point guards of the league.
At the age of 36, Blake has been able to hang around the league much longer than most people ever would have expected, but he's reached the point where he will be watching most games from the bench. Instead of hanging on to his last bit of mediocrity, Blake should retire and watch the game from a more comfortable seat... his couch.
11 Manu Ginobili
The San Antonio Spurs have been the most consistent team in the NBA over the past decade. Every year the Spurs are one of the top seeds in the Western Conference playoffs and a lot of that success is attributable to their amazing head coach, Gregg Popovich. But the Spurs have also had Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili over that stretch but their big three is already being dismantled with the retirement of Tim Duncan.
Manu should follow suit and retire after the 2016-17 season as his skillset no longer allows for the flashy, euro-inspired style that made Ginobili so feared. There were tears in his eyes when Ginobili walked off the court after being eliminated in the Rio Olympics after he announced his retirement from the Argentinian national team. Expect a similar reaction whenever the Spurs play their final game this season.
It's certainly an end of an era in San Antonio with Duncan no longer around and Ginobili will surely follow suit after this season.
10 Anthony Bennett
The former number one pick in the 2013 NBA Draft has never lived up to his expectations, thus earning the label of being one of the biggest draft busts of all time. Bennett continues to earn opportunities with NBA teams based solely off of his potential and will have one last chance to remain in the league with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Nets are going to be horrid this year and so taking a flyer on a guy like Bennett is warranted, but how much can they actually expect from a guy that has always shown so little skill in the NBA? If Bennett can prove the doubters wrong, he may be able to extend his NBA lifespan for a few years but it's highly unlikely at this point.
Honestly, the Nets are extremely talent deprived and that may allow Bennett to remain on the roster for a full season but if he gets cut again, Bennett should seriously consider retiring from the NBA and taking his talents overseas.
9 Vince Carter
Once the most exciting players in the NBA, Vince Carter's age has left him devoid of what always made him so special. His famous hops produced some of the most spectacular dunks the league has ever seen and some of them seemed to defy human limitations (ex: Carter once jumped completely over a 7'2" opponent in the Olympics).
Unfortunately, the grind of an 18 year NBA career has all but stripped Vincanity's knees of any jumping ability now. The only dunk contest Carter would be able to win nowadays would be against Jared Dudley or my mom. Without his athleticism, Carter is essentially an overpaid three and D player, minus the defense.
The memories and highlights will always be around, but Carter will not be. This should be a curtain call for the once amazing Vincanity. May the 7'2" center he jumped over now sleep peacefully.
8 Pablo Prigioni
How is the guy still in the league? Actually, how was this guy ever in the league? Prigioni is famous for being the oldest NBA rookie ever when he signed a contract with the Knicks in 2012 at the ripe age of 35. Since then he has yet to average more than 5.0 points per game for a season and really offers very little defensively.
Now on the Houston Rockets, Prigioni will be asked to provide depth for Mike D'Antoni's run and gun offense. However, Prigioni has and always will be more of a liability than he is an asset for an NBA team. At 39 years of age, he cannot have more than this season left in the tank.
If Prigioni ever wants to produce respectable numbers again, he will have to do so overseas as his NBA experiment has been an utter failure. Please go back to Europe Mr. Prigioni, your services are no longer needed here.
7 Tyson Chandler
The Suns made an interesting move last offseason when they signed Tyson Chandler to a four year, $52 million contract, despite being 32 years old. Chandler was once a dominant center in terms of blocked shots and rebounding but he's suffered through several injury-riddled seasons and his body appears to be failing him.
Chandler can still be a productive rebounder, evidenced by his 27 rebound performance against Atlanta last season, but he provides very little offensively. The production is still there and he could certainly play out the last three seasons of his contract with the Suns, but his injury proneness continues to make him a liability. Combine that with his age and Chandler should be seriously considering making 2016-17 his final season.
Chandler should use his Hollywood caliber looks and outgoing personality to remain involved with the NBA as a TV personality. The Suns, who are rebuilding and would love to see Chandler announce his retirement so they could shed his salary.
6 Tayshaun Prince
During his glory years, Tayshaun Prince was the Detroit Pistons main defensive cog and boy was he good at it. His relentless effort and extremely long arms made it tough for opposing teams to execute on offense. Now at age 36, Prince is essentially an afterthought on the court. He averaged only 2.9 points a game in 19 minutes per game last season for the Timberwolves. Woof.
As mentioned above, the Timberwolves are an exciting young team and having players like Prince and Garnett will pay dividends in growing the young players maturity, but Prince will rarely see the court in 2016-17. Prince had a nice NBA run and won several championships but it's time for him to hang em' up. As Shakespeare once said, "goodnight, sweet prince."
5 Tony Parker
Parker's situation is very similar to Manu Ginobili's, as the two appear to be ready to make a final run for one last NBA championship. Parker has lost a step or two, which is crucial because his quickness was always his best asset and would strike fear in opposing point guards. He is still a very serviceable point guard and his trademark floater will never age, but his legs and body already have.
The Spurs will be in the mix for another championship this year as their old stars are still surrounded by great talent. Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Pau Gasol have extended the championship window for Parker and Ginobili, but it just won't be the same seeing them out there without Tim Duncan.
It would be fitting if Ginobili retires after this season for Parker to follow suit. It's the end of an era for the Spurs, whether they want to accept it or not.
4 Nick Young
Nick Young (aka "Swaggy P") is not on this list because of his age or for a lack of talent, but because of his off-court antics. Swaggy P has been surrounded by controversy for the past season and things don't appear to be getting any better for him as his name has recently been thrown around with the Derrick Rose rape allegations.
Regardless if those rumors are true or not, Young has created a sense of negativity wherever he goes and it's not healthy for an NBA locker room. While he can still put up points in a hurry, he's got bigger issues right now than coming off the bench for the Lakers.
Sometimes players are forced out of the league before their time because of their attitude (ex: Gilbert Arenas) and Young appears to be falling into this situation. Young should retire from the NBA on his accord and take his talents overseas where he can get a fresh start. To paraphrase Iggy Azalea, Young should go from "Los Angeles to Tokyo."
3 Dirk Nowitzki
Dirk is undeniably the best European player to ever grace the hardwood in the NBA. The 13 time All Star brought a unique mix of size and skill that many have since tried to duplicate. Now entering his 19th NBA season, the sun is setting on Dirk's incredible NBA career.
The Mavericks will be decent this season and will likely compete for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference, but they lack the talent to compete with the elite teams in the league. Dirk will do everything he can to return to the playoffs and it would be a disservice to all of us not to witness Nowitzki in his element one last time.
Mark Cuban should invest in a time machine because he will not be able to replace Dirk very easily, he's just too unique.
2 Nate Robinson
Little Nate Robinson was once the most exciting bench player in the NBA. The minute point guard from the University of Washington brought a sense of small-man syndrome to the NBA hardwood that made him a ferocious competitor. Add in his amazing highlight reel and dunk contest championships, and it's safe to say that Robinson had one of the more intriguing careers in the NBA.
But Nate is no longer the same player he once was and he's now practically begging NBA teams to give him another chance. In fact, Robinson is so desperate to show off his extreme athleticism still that he recently worked out for the Seattle Seahawks in an effort to become an NFL cornerback.
There is a reason why teams aren't giving him a chance anymore and Nate needs to take the hint. At least we will always have youtube to watch his amazing highlights.
1 Chris Bosh
Bosh is the only player in NBA history to resemble the mascot of one of the teams he played for (Bosh looks like a Velociraptor and used to play for the Toronto Raptors). Last season the Miami Heat refused to let Bosh play, against his will to an extinct, because of the danger that his blood clots were presenting.
This is not a typical injury for a player to have to deal with as this medical condition could be potentially fatal for Bosh. It's really tragic to see this happen to such a nice and professional guy, but sometimes these type of things make you realize that there are more important things other than basketball in life.
It would be great to see Bosh regain control of his health but it's not something he should put to risk. He's had a great career but Bosh needs to choose his health at this point in his life.