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Oldest players in NBA history
These are the oldest players to ever play in the NBA. A total of 17 players have played in the league who were 40 years or older. Listed here are the ten oldest players in NBA history.
One of these players is thought to be much older than his listed years and that player was on my favorite team the New Jersey Nets when he was listed as 36 years of age. He looked and played like he was a lot older than that to me and it is possible he is the oldest player all-time but not officially.
Oldest Players in NBA History
1. Nat Hickey - 45 years, 363 days
Nat Hickey was the coach of the Providence Steamrollers in 1947-48 in the old BAA the predecessor of the NBA. Providence was an awful team and would finish the season with a 6-42 record. On January 28, 1948 just two days shy of his 46th birthday Nat Hickey figured he had nothing to lose and put himself in a game. He was awful missing all 6 shots he took and he committed 5 personal fouls but he did make 2 of the 3 free throws he attempted.
2. Kevin Willis - 44 years, 244 days
After sitting out the entire 2005-06 season 44 year old Kevin Willis tried to make a comeback with the Dallas Mavericks in 2006-07. The comeback lasted just 5 games but it was enough to make Willis the second oldest player to ever play in the NBA. Willis played in the NBA for 21 years and is 5th all-time in games played having played in 1,424 games.
3. Robert Parish - 43 years, 254 days
Robert Parish also played in the NBA for 21 seasons and is the all-time leader in games played with 1,611. The Chief who won 3 NBA Championships with the Boston Celtics went out the right way. He played his last season in 1996-97 with the Chicago Bulls and won his 4th NBA Championship. He played sparingly all season and appeared in just 2 playoff games but winning that 4th ring must have been a nice way to finish his hall of fame career.
Foreign born players often have sketchy birth records and many of them will claim to be younger than they are (Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez with the New York Yankees comes to mind here). Dikembe Mutombo played for my Nets during the 2002-03 season and I would swear he looked and played like a 40 year old. Officially he was listed at age 36. He went on to play 6 more seasons in the NBA (and make over $40 million more dollars) and officially retired at age 42 but many suspect he was much older.
5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - 42 years, 6 days
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played in the NBA for 20 seasons and played his last game when he 6 days past his 42nd birthday. Kareem is the all-time leader in points scored and is 2nd all-time in games played having played in 51 games less than Robert Parish.
6. Bob Cousy - 41 years, 151 days
Bob Cousy played for 13 years with the Boston Celtics and retired in 1963 at age 35. He went on to become the head coach of the Cincinnati Royals in 1969-70. The Royals were not a good team that year and they didn't draw well so Cousy put himself into 7 games at the end of the season as a 41 year old. He played lousy as one would expect scoring just 5 points and handing out just 10 assists in 34 minutes played but attendance did pick up.
7. Herb Williams - 41 years, 129 days
Herb Williams was always known as a good guy to have in the locker room and that helped his career last until he was over 41 years of age.
8. John Stockton - 41 years, 35 days
John Stockton is the all-time leader in both assists and steals and played in the NBA for 19 years. He was 40 years old through most of his last season in 2002-03 and was still a productive player as he started all 82 games and averaged 10.8 points and 7.7 assists per game.
9. Charles Jones - 41 years, 30 days
Charles Jones didn't start playing in the NBA until he was 26 years old. He lasted for 15 years though and retired at age 41. Jones was strictly a back-up in his career and lasted mainly due to his shot blocking and rebounding ability. He averaged 4.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per 36 minutes played. He won a championship with the Houston Rockets in 1995.
10. Karl Malone - 40 years, 325 days
The Mailman kept mailing it in until he was almost 41 years old. Malone joined the Utah Jazz in 1985-86 one year after John Stockton got there. They played together for 18 seasons and then Stockton retired and Malone played one more season trying to win a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2003-04.
Other Notable 40 Year Olds
Michael Jordan - 40 years, 58 days
In his last year in the NBA in 2002-03 with the Washington Wizards, Michael Jordan averaged 20.0 points per game as he turned 40 years old that season. A great average for almost anyone but MJ. Jordan was just human that season instead of super-human.
Danny Schayes - 40 years, 3 days
As a senior at Syracuse University in 1981 Danny Schayes would help my favorite college basketball team win the Big East Tournament. But the Big East was new then and not guaranteed an NCAA Tournament bid and the selection committee snubbed the 18-11 Orange. So Syracuse played in the NIT and made it to the championship game against Tulsa (Nolan Richardson coached and Paul Pressey starred) which was one of the best college basketball games I've ever seen. Tulsa beat the Orange 86-84 in OT but the game was fast paced up and down the court action all the way which is how basketball should be played.
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