Basketball is a young man's game. Not only does an athlete need quickness, speed, agility, finesse, and an outright determination to win, but they need the physicality to compete. With that physicality comes wear and tear, including injuries, and just a deterioration of the muscles and joints in the body. In recent years, even LeBron James has cut out some of his muscle weight, so less force is put on his joints, in turn, extending his career as he's now well into his 30s.
The average age of an NBA player is 26-28 (76ers have an average age below 25!). But there are some players that transcend this stereotype and dominate the league for many years. Some of them stay in the starting lineups and others ride the bench, providing mentoring to younger players. When they begin to take this role in their careers, they'll often slip under the radar and fans will flat out forget that these players, some being stars at one point, are actually still active. Either way, today, we take a look at the top 15 NBA players you didn't realize haven't retired yet. Grab your dentures, walker, and wake up early to take a trip down memory lane!
16 Beno Udrih
The Slovenian-born point guard has made a career out of playing the role of a reliable back-up. At 35 years old, Udrih has been playing professionally since 1997, where he started in the Slovenian Basketball League and ended up winning Rookie of the Year. In 2004, he joined the San Antonio Spurs and since has bounced around to the Kings, Bucks, Magic, Knicks, Grizzlies, Heat, and Pistons. Wow, talk about a journeyman! That's over a quarter of the league that he has played with! He has averaged 8.4 points per game, 3.4 assists per game, and 2.1 rebounds per game over the course of his career. Not your average numbers for a long-time veteran, but not horrible either. We will see what team he continues with in 2017.
15 Nick Collison
Collison came into the league in 2003 as the 12th overall pick of the Seattle Supersonics. While he never live up to the hype he had coming out of the University of Kansas, this power forward has made a career as being a basketball fundamentalist. He does what the coach tells him, and continues playing for almost no money, to ensure that the stars get their due.
Fifteen years later, in 2017, the 36-year-old Collison is still with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but barely plays anymore. He only played in 20 games in 2016-17 and started zero of them. His best season came in 2007-08, when the team was still in Seattle, where he averaged almost a double-double. Maybe not the best player on this list, but to sustain an NBA career with low production with only one team is amazing!
14 David West
We will stay in the 2003 draft and move to the 18th overall pick out of Xavier, David West. West, now 36 years-old, continues to make his presence known in the NBA. His first eight years were in New Orleans, but he found his role with the Golden State Warriors, playing a vital part in their 2017 championship run.
Over the course of his career, West has been selected to the All-Star game twice (2008, 2009) and in college, was named AP Player of the Year. The power forward has amassed over 13,000 points, over 6,000 rebounds, and over 2,000 assists. He resigned with Warriors in 2017, and looks like he has no signs of stopping. What a great, long career for the kid out of Xavier! A true success story!
12 Zach Randolph
Z-bo! The two-time All-Star is still dominating the boards in the NBA. Currently, Randolph signed with the Sacramento Kings for the 2017 season. Throughout his career, the 36 year-old power forward has scored over 17,000 points and is just shy of 10,000 rebounds. He was a member of the Portland "JailBlazers" and sucker punched then teammate Ruben Patterson. His quick temper has followed him throughout his career, and recently got suspended for punching the Oklahoma City center, Steven Adams.
Unfortunately for Randolph, on August 10, 2017, he was arrested for drug possession with the intent to sell. Come on, Zach! You just signed a two-year, $24-million deal, you are supposed to have someone else hold the drugs for you! Either way, Randolph has had a solid career, albeit plagued with legal troubles and anger issues.
11 Joe Johnson
The once great Atlanta Hawks star is still bouncing around the league at the ripe old age of 36. Johnson came into the league via the 2001 NBA Draft, where he was selected 10th overall by the Boston Celtics. During the course of his career, he made seven All-Star games, and one All-NBA third-team (2010). He even had 5 seasons in a row where he was averaging over 20 points per game!
In 2016, Johnson signed with Utah Jazz with the intention of coming off the bench behind Gordon Hayward, and mentoring young players. But with the Jazz facing injury issues, he came into the starting lineup and made an immediate impact, helping Utah to make the playoffs. Johnson plans on continuing his career in Utah despite star Gordon Hayward departing for Boston in the off-season.
10 Kyle Korver
Like a fine, white wine, Korver has only gotten better with age. The 36-year-old, drafted 51st overall in the 2003 draft, has made a living as a three-point specialist. He runs down the floor, sets up in the corner, and waits for the rock to come his way so he can launch up a triple. In 2015, Korver actually made the All-Star game and is a four-time leader in NBA three point percentage.
I can't imagine Korver's style of play slowing down his career too much. He is currently on a stacked Cavaliers roster that just got rid of a big three point shooter in Kyrie Irving. Korver's value to the Cavaliers is immense, as the deep threat has taken over as the key to success in today's league. Look for the white boy to keep launching it from downtown for a few more years to come.
9 Udonis Haslem
How is Haslem still in the league? Seriously? And this whole time he has been with the Miami Heat. Haslem came into the league in 2003 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Florida. He has been with the Heat through their three championships in the last twelve years and is actually Miami's all-time leading rebounder. Another fun fact about Haslem; it took him 13 years in the league and finally, in 2015, he hit his first ever three-pointer. On July 20, 2017, he re-signed with Miami, so you will see plenty of him in the coming year.
Behind Dirk, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli, Haslem holds the 4th spot in the longest tenure any player has had with only one NBA team. What an accomplishment for a guy who had to spend one year in France (2002) just to get his name on a NBA Scout's sheet.
8 Jamal Crawford
At 37 years old, Crawford will spend the 2017-18 season continuing his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He remains a key asset off of the bench and is currently the No. 2 bench scorer of all-time, only behind Dell Curry. After being selected as the 8th pick of the 2000 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Crawford has made his career jumping from team to team. He has played with the Bulls, Knicks, Warriors, Hawks, Trail Blazers, Clippers, and Timberwolves. The three-time 6th man of the year is also No. 6 all-time in three-pointers made. Clearly, he is not an All-Star, but has played his role well and that is why he has not retired yet. Hopefully, after 2017, "Mr. And-One" will add another year to his career.
7 Tony Parker
It is crazy to think that Tony Parker is only 35 years-old! It seems like he has been in the league since the 90s, but he was actually drafted 28th overall in the 2001 draft by the Spurs. The six-time All-Star and four-time NBA Champion is still kicking around Central Texas, making defenses pay by racing down the court and making everyone look silly. The crazy thing is that Parker is still extremely productive. In 2017, he got injured in the playoffs, but was poised to help his team move deeper into the Western Conference Finals (even though Golden State would have probably still won).
He is a general out on the floor and his role has changed over the years. He isn't as fast and as quick as usual, but under Gregg Popovich, Parker thrives. That is why he makes our list at and the fact I like looking up pictures of his ex-wife, Eva Longoria, helps!
6 Manu Ginobili
Okay, so there was a big deal after last year's conference finals that Manu was going to retire. San Antonio fans even gave him a standing ovation when leaving the court of the Western Conference Finals. But come on San Antonio, maybe the man wasn't done playing yet! At age 40, Manu signed a two-year extension with the Spurs going into his 16th NBA season. Maybe the Argentinian's role has been reduced, but he his still a force on the court. Known for his Euro step and oscar-worthy flopping, Manu will try to help the Spurs get passed the Warriors this year. With Tony Parker back, Kawhi Leonard healthy, and off-season acquisitions such as Rudy Gay, the Spurs may be old, but they still have a lot of fight left in them. Look for Manu's bald spot running up and down the court with the second team in the 2017-18 season.
5 Dirk Nowitzki
Okay, so NBA fans may have realized that Dirk is still in the league, but he's on our list, simply, for his longevity. Dirk was never the most athletic player, not a whole lot of flash, but damn, that dude can ball. Everyone has tried to mimic his fadeaway, one-footed jump shot in rec league (and probably missed). There is a reason Mark Cuban signed the 7-foot German to a two-year extension in 2016.
Among his career achievements, Dirk won a championship in 2011, won the MVP in 2007, and has been a 13-time All-Star. He is honestly the heart of Dallas basketball, and helped bring a struggling team back to the mainstream in the early 2000s. He is the highest scoring foreign-born player in NBA history and has had a hell of a career. The 2017-18 campaign is expected to be his last season, and tickets for potentially his last game are hitting record prices.
4 Dwight Howard
Superman! Or well he used to be. Dwight's career started off extremely promising with the Orlando Magic, but his supposed immature behavior has tarnished some of his legacy. He took plays off here and there and just complained too much. Only 31 years-old, it seems like he has been in the league for forever, but has not made a huge impact in the last few years. Howard signed with the Charlotte Hornets for the 2017-18 season.
As you can tell from now, I'm not the biggest Dwight Howard fan, but I cannot overshadow his true greatness. He was the youngest player to reach 9,000 rebounds and is just an athletic freak (have you seen how big his delts are?!). My gripe is that he could have been so much more. Instead of developing a jump shot and free throws to change his game when his athleticism decreased, he chose to keep doing the same old thing. Dwight, I will always think of how good you could have been, not how good you actually are.
3 Tony Allen
Mr. Defense (just what I like to call him) is No.3 on our list of NBAers you didn't realize haven't retired yet. Allen is going into his 13th season in the NBA and is still making an impact on the court, locking down the opposing team's best player. In 2004, he was drafted 25th overall by the Boston Celtics, and was a key player in their 2008 championship run. Not known for his shooting or any of his offensive skills, Allen has made three first team All-NBA defensive teams and three second All-NBA defensive teams. With the Celtics, he was nicknamed "Gucci" by his teammates, but now goes by "Grindfather" with the Grizzlies, since he hustles and grinds on the court. Look for Allen to continue his lock-down defense for a few years to come.
2 Jason Terry
Wait, this guy is still in the league? Yes he is, headband and all. Selected in the 1999 NBA Draft with the 10th overall pick, Terry made a statement in the league early, making the All-NBA Rookie second team. He is known to be a bit of a journeyman, with stops in Atlanta, Dallas, Boston, Brooklyn, Houston, and now Milwaukee. Like Allen, even though he is not an All-Star, he was an integral part to Dallas' championship run in 2011. Nicknamed "The Jet" for his speed and athleticism, Terry also rounds out the top three for most three-pointers made in NBA history! To top that all off, he won the sixth man of the year award in 2009 with the Mavericks. At 39 years old, Terry is not retired yet, and Bucks fans hope "The Jet" keeps flying in this upcoming season.
1 Vince Carter
From one "Jet" to another, "Air Canada" tops our list of NBA players you didn't realize haven't retired yet. Carter signed a deal with Sacramento in the off-season, where he will most likely see a limited role, but act as a mentor to a young Kings team. While the 40-year-old is no longer posterizing opponents like he did in the late 90s, Carter developed a decent jumpshot and has kept his career alive. The eight-time All-Star is extremely well-liked with the fans too, as he is only one of five players to lead the NBA fan voting for the All-Star game three times! Talk about Mr. Popular! "Vinsanity" may have lost a little hitch in his giddy up, but the old boy sure still knows how to ball. Good for you Vince, good for you.
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