10 Oldest NBA Players Ever (Updated 2024)

Being a professional athlete can be both a lucrative and fulfilling career option, especially for someone with natural talent and ambition. However, professional sports tend to take a toll on athletes’ bodies and the average age of retirement is 33. While this is typically true for most athletes, there are several who play for decades and retire at an age that is seen as exceptionally “old” for an athlete. The following 10 NBA players all retired over the age of 40 and most of them left a lasting legacy in their sport and were inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

As of July 2023, this list is as accurate as possible and will be updated in the future as needed.

10. Charles Jones (April 3, 1957 – Present)

Oldest Age While Playing:  41 years, 30 days in 1998
Last Game : May 3, 1998
Last Team:  Houston Rockets
 Years Played:  1984 – 1998 (15 years)
Position:  Power forward/Center

Charles Jonesphoto source: NY Daily News  (Jones is No. 23)

Although Charles Jones had a fairly long career in the NBA, he did not really leave behind a notable impact. Jones’ most notable attribute as a professional basketball player is that he is one of the oldest players in the game’s history, retiring at the age of 41.

Jones was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 1979, but did not start playing until 1984 for the Philadelphia 76ers. During his time with the Houston Rockets in 1995, Jones did win an NBA Championship. Jones went on to play for four more teams before retiring from the NBA in 1998.

Did You Know?

Charles Jones’ brothers – Wil, Caldwell, and Major – all played basketball for Albany State (like Charles) as well as the NBA.

9. John Stockton (March 26, 1962 – Present)

Oldest Age While Playing:  41 years, 35 days in 2003
Last Game: April 30, 2003
Last Team:  Utah Jazz
 Years Played:  1984 – 2003 (19 years)
Position:  Point guard

John Stocktonphoto source: Wikimedia Commons via United States Forest Service

John Stockton spent his entire professional basketball career, which lasted for 19 years, as a point guard for the Utah Jazz. Stockton  holds the NBA record for most assists (15,806) and steals (3,265) and is considered to be one of the best point guards of all time.

Stockton also has five of the top six assist seasons in NBA history with the other belonging to Isiah Thomas and also holds the record for the most games and consecutive games played with one team. Stockton was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 for his career as an individual player and also in 2010 as a member 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team (the famous “Dream Team”).

Did You Know?

John Stockton comes from a family of athletes – his grandfather, Hust Stockton (John Houston Stockton) played for the NFL in its early days and Stockton’s sons played basketball in college and professionally.

8. Herb Williams (February 16, 1958 – Present)

Oldest Age While Playing:  41 years, 129 days in 1999
Last Game: June 25, 1999
Last Team:  New York Knicks
 Years Played:  1981 – 1999 (18 years)
Position:  Center/Power forward

Herb Williamsphoto source: nba.com

Herb Williams played in the NBA for 18 years and is the seventh oldest player ever. Williams was a first round draft pick for the Indiana Pacers in 1981, but did not necessarily have a remarkable career. At the end of his playing career, Williams had 11,944 points, 6,509 rebounds, and 1,605 blocks.

After retiring from the NBA as a player, Williams was the assistant and interim coach for the New York Knicks from 2003 – 2014. Williams is currently the assistant coach for the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

Did You Know?

While Herb Williams may not have set any records in the NBA, he still holds some records from his college career with the Ohio States Buckeyes, including most career fields goals made (834 in 114 games), second most rebounds (1,111), and second most blocked shots (328).

7. Bob Cousy (August 9, 1928 – Present)

Oldest Age While Playing:  41 years, 150 days in 1970
Last Game: January 6, 1970
Last Team:  Cincinnati Royals
 Years Played:  1950 – 1963; 1970 (13.5 years)
Position:  Point Guard

Bob Cousyphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Bob Cousy is the sixth oldest person to play for the NBA and is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. During his NBA career as a player, Cousy was a 13 time NBA All Star and won the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in 1957. Although Cousy played his final game for the Cincinnati Royals, who he was coaching for at the time, he spent his entire 13-year playing career with the Boston Celtics.

Cousy retired as a player in 1963, but went on to coach for Boston College and eventually the Cincinnati Royals. In 1970, Cousy returned, at the age of 41, as a player for the Royals during the late season in an effort to boost ticket sales – ticket sales jumped by 77 percent.

Did You Know?

Bob Cousy was the first president of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), which was established in 1954 – the NBPA is the oldest trade union of the four major North American sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL).

6. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (April 16, 1947 – Present)

Oldest Age While Playing:  42 years, 6 days in 1989
Last Game: April 22, 1989
Last Team:  Los Angeles Lakers
 Years Played:  1969 – 1989 (20 years)
Position:  Center

Kareem Abdul-Jabbarphoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is known for being one of the greatest basketball players of all time and is the fifth oldest person to have played in the NBA. His NBA career spans over 20 years and during that time he set several records including, six-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), 19-time NBA All Star, played in six NBA championships, and was voted NBA Finals MVP twice.

Abdul-Jabbar still holds the record as the all time leading scorer with 38,387 points and the player with the most career wins at 1,074. In 2016, ESPN named him the second best player in NBA history behind Michael Jordan.

Did You Know?

When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired, he was the NBA’s all-time leader in points scored (38,387), games played (1,560), minutes played (57,446), field goals made (15,837), field goal attempts (28,307), blocked shots (3,189), defensive rebounds (9,394), career wins (1,074), and personal fouls (4,657).

5. Dikembe Mutombo (June 25, 1966 – Present)

Oldest Age While Playing:  42 years, 300 days in 2009
Last Game: April 21, 2009
Last Team:  Houston Rockets
 Years Played:  1991 – 2009 (18 years)
Position:  Center

Dikembe Mutombophoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Dikembe Mutombo is a former NBA player best known for being one of the greatest shot blockers and defensive players of all time and has won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award four times. He is also one of the oldest people to play in the NBA. Mutombo’s career lasted for 18 years and he played for Denver Nuggets, Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, and the Houston Rockets.

After injuring himself in his last game for the Houston Rockets, Mutombo announced that he would retire from the NBA. Mutombo was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015 and since retiring from professional basketball, he has continued to do humanitarian work around the world.

Did You Know?

In 2009, NBA Commissioner David Stern appointed Dikembe Mutombo to the newly created position of Global Ambassador. In this position, Mutombo travels throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa to grow and celebrate the game of basketball through numerous international NBA events including Basketball without Borders.

4. Vince Carter (January 26, 1977 – Present)

Oldest Age While Playing:  43 years, 37 days (as of March 2020)
Last Game: N/A – still active
Last Team:  Atlanta Hawks (current)
 Years Played:  1998 – 2020 (22 years)
Position:  Shooting guard/Small forward

Vince Carterphoto source: Wikimedia Commons via chensiyuan

Vince Carter retired in March 2020 at the age of 43. Cater played for the Atlanta Hawks since the start of 2018-2019 season until the end of his NBA career.

Carter has been playing basketball since he was a child and started his professional career when he was the fifth overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors, who traded Carter to the Toronto Raptors. So far in his career, Carter has played for various NBA teams, including the New Jersey Nets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Sacramento Kings. In addition to his longevity, Carter is widely regarded as the greatest dunker in the history of basketball.

Did You Know?

Like many professional athletes, Vince Carter is heavily involved with philanthropic works and he established the Embassy of Hope Foundation to assist children and their families in Florida, New Jersey, and Toronto.

3. Robert Parish (August 30, 1953 – Present)

Oldest Age While Playing:  43 years, 254 days in 1997
Last Game: May 11, 1997
Last Team:  Chicago Bulls
 Years Played:  1976 – 1997 (21 years)
Position:  Center

Robert Parishphoto source: nba.com

Robert Parish was first drafted into the NBA in 1976 after graduating from college and played for 21 consecutive years. Parish is the third oldest NBA player ever and holds an NBA record of playing in 1,611 regular season games during his career.

Although Parish played for a few teams, he best remembered for his time with the Boston Celtics, who he remained with for 14 years. In the 1980s, Parish won three NBA Championships with the Boston Celtics. Parish was inducted into the the NBA Hall of Fame in 2003 and was also voted as on the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996.

Did You Know?

Robert Parish’s nickname, The Chief, was given to him by fellow Celtics teammate Cedric Maxwell. The name was inspired the fictitious Chief Bromden, a silent, giant Native American character in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

2. Kevin Willis (September 6, 1962 – Present)

Oldest Age While Playing:  44 years, 224 days in 2007
Last Game: April 18, 2007
Last Team:  Dallas Mavericks
 Years Played:  1984 – 2005; 2007 (21 years)
Position:  Power forward/Center

Kevin Willisphoto source: nba.com

Kevin Willis holds the record for being the second oldest player ever in the NBA. He was first drafted in 1984 and played for various teams including the Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets, and the Dallas Mavericks – Willis played for 21 consecutive years, took a break for a year, and returned for his final season in 2007.

Willis only played five games for the Mavericks during the late regular season. Due to his long career, Willis is one of 15 players in NBA history to have over 16,000 career points and 11,000 career rebounds.

Did You Know?

Kevin Willis shares the record for most seasons played in the NBA with Robert Parish, Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter, and Dirk Nowitzki.

1. Nat Hickey (January 30, 1902 – September 16, 1979)

Oldest Age While Playing:  45 years, 363 days in 1948
Last Game: January 28, 1948
Last Team:  Providence Steamrollers
 Years Played:  1948 in the NBA; 1921 – 1942 in the American Basketball League (28 years total as a player and coach)
Position:  Guard/Forward

Nat Hickeyphoto source: Amino

Nat Hickey holds the record for being the oldest person to have played in the NBA (which at the time was the Basketball Association of America) as he played two games in 1948, a few days before his 46th birthday. Hickey was the coach of the Providence Steamrollers during the 1947 – 48 season; he decided to activate himself as a player in an effort to turn the team’s losing streak around.

During both NBA games, Hickey managed to score a total of two points and recorded five personal fouls. Prior to coaching for the early NBA, Hickey was a professional basketball player for the American Basketball League for 21 years on various teams.

Did You Know?

As a player, Nat Hickey played with some of basketball’s earliest professional teams, including the Chicago Bruins, Boston Trojans, Original Celtics (all from the American Basketball League); and the Pittsburgh Raiders, Indianapolis Kautskys, and Tri-Cities Blackhawks of the National Basketball League.


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