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Top 10 oldest players in NBA history

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April 13th, 2021

The NBA features some of the greatest athletes in the world. And while athleticism might be enough for some players to get their chance, recognition is owed to those who display the savvy and skill to play well past the average age of retirement.

Without further ado, here are the 10 oldest players in NBA history.

10. Charles Jones

Position: Center/power forward
Age during final game: 41 years, 30 days
Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, Washington Bullets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets
Years active: 1984-1998

A member of the Rockets' 1995 NBA Championship team, Jones began his career overseas before spending time with five different NBA franchises. He enjoyed his finest season in 1984-85, when he averaged 5.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game for the Washington Bullets.

9. John Stockton

Position: Point guard
Age during final game: 41 years, 35 days
Team: Utah Jazz
Years active: 1985-2003

One of the greatest point guards of all time and the ultimate assist man, Stockton played his entire career with the Utah Jazz. His game was timeless, and it allowed him to play into his 40’s.

8. Herb Williams

Position: Center
Age during final game: 41 years, 129 days
Teams: Indiana Pacers, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks
Years active: 1982-1999

Williams' name may not be familiar to younger NBA fans, but he was one of the league's most dependable bigs during his 19-year career. The Ohio State alum averaged 17.0 points and 8.1 rebounds during a a five year span from 1983-87, and was a valuable member of the New York Knicks late in his career.

7. Bob Cousy

Position: Point guard
Age during final game: 41 years, 150 days
Teams: Boston Celtics, Cincinnati Royals
Years active: 1951-1963, 1970

After retiring from basketball in 1963, legendary Celtics point guard Cousy found himself coaching the Cincinnati Royals. In a late-season effort to boost ticket sales, the 13-time All-Star returned to the court and averaged 0.7 points over seven games.

6. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Position: Center
Age during final game: 42 years, 6 days
Teams: Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers
Years active: 1970-1989

One of the NBA’s greatest players, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a 19-time All-Star, a six-time MVP, and is the league's all-time leading scorer. His graceful skyhook remained nearly unblockable until the day he retired.  

5. Dikembe Mutombo

Position: Center
Age during final game: 42 years, 300 days
Teams: Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets
Years active: 1992-2009

The four-time Defensive Player of the Year was one of the greatest defenders and shot blockers in NBA history. Even at age 42, Mutumbo was still averaging an impressive 1.2 swats per game.

4. Vince Carter

Position: Shooting guard/small forward
Age during final game: 43 years, 37 days
Teams: Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks
Years active: 1999-2020

One of the more well-traveled and adaptable players in the game, Carter went from being the greatest dunker of his generation to a three-point shooting threat. His unceremonious retirement in a COVID-shortened season didn’t do justice to the impact "Air Canada" had on the game.

3. Robert Parrish

Position: Center
Age during final game: 43 years, 254 days
Teams: Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls
Years active: 1977-1997

The long-time Boston Celtic holds the record for most regular-season games played in NBA history at 1,611.

2. Kevin Willis

Position: Power forward/center
Age during final game: 44 years, 224 days
Teams: Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks
Years active: 1985-2005, 2007

Willis played only five games with Dallas during his final year after a season-long break, but his ability to make the court as a nearly 45-year-old is nothing short of incredible.

1. Nat Hickey

Position: Guard/forward
Age during final game: 45 years, 363 days
Team: Providence Steamrollers
Years active: 1948

If you want to win a trivia challenge, this might be your winning answer. Nat Hickey was the coach of the Providence Steamrollers and activated himself for two games in 1948 to try to turn the team’s fortunes around.

He holds the record for oldest player to step onto an NBA court.

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