We don’t need to tell you how physically demanding the sport of basketball can be, let alone basketball at the level of the NBA. The NBA is, after all, the world’s premier basketball league. It is, to a huge degree, the most difficult place to excel in the sport. So whatever the demands the sport of basketball will make on one’s body, they will virtually increase by tenfold in the NBA. Indeed, the average retirement age in the NBA is 33, because it is at this point that the body can’t perform as well as it used to. Which is why it’s simply amazing to see players still playing well beyond this age. In fact, for this article, we’ve rounded up the longest playing basketball players in the history of the NBA, updated to March of 2020. So, without further ado, here they are.
NAT HICKEY—45 YEARS OLD
Nat Hickey, who we are quite sure many of you would not have heard of, holds the record for being the oldest person to have still been able to play in the NBA. Interestingly enough, the NBA was still referred to at the time as the Basketball Association of America, since this was way back in the ‘40s. Hickey didn’t have a long career as an NBA player like most on this list, but he’s still, to a huge degree, the oldest to have played in the league, having played 2 seasons before his 46th birthday. Weirdly, Hickey was actually a coach of a basketball team but decided to play to turn the team’s abysmal record around.
KEVIN WILLIS—44 YEARS OLD
7-foot power forward (and occasional center) Kevin Willis holds the distinction for being the second-oldest player in the NBA. The man played for 21 consecutive years in the league. He did take a 1-year break, but came back and, well, played again for one last final season. And, primarily because of the length of time he was playing for the league, Willis is one of only a few players in the NBA to have been able to reach 16,000 career points and 11,000 rebounds. Many young NBA fans might not have heard of Willis, but to his credit, they will when they encounter listicles such as these.
ROBERT PARISH—43 YEARS OLD
Robert Parish, known for his defensive playing and high-arched jump shots, played a total of 21 years for the NBA, after being drafted straight out of college. The man is listed as the third oldest NBA player in history. Although he’s played for various teams, he will always be remembered for his Boston Celtics days, a team with which he remained for 14 years. To his credit, he was inducted to the NBA Hall of Fame in 2003, and various sports organizations have listed him as one of the 50 best NBA players in history.
VINCE CARTER—43 YEARS OLD
Vince Carter was, to his credit, one of the most highflying and dynamic players of the NBA. During the peak of his career, he was not just one of the best but also one of the best to watch, not least because of his athleticism and dunking ability. His career saw him transferring from one team to another and earning awards and accolades galore, including the Rookie of the Year Award, The Slam Dunk Champion, and an Olympic Gold Medal. Carter has indeed had a very storied and colorful career, playing for the NBA for a whopping 22 seasons before retiring.
DIKEMBE MUTOMBO—42 YEARS OLD
Dikembe Mutombo is known in the NBA as one of the best shot blockers in history. Indeed, he’s a four-time Defensive Player of the Year award recipient precisely because he was so good at defense. He played 18 seasons for the NBA and saw himself transferring to various NBA teams during his tenure. It was when he played for the Houston Rockets that he eventually got plagued with injury and announced his retirement. In 2009, Mutombo finally hung his jersey and dedicated his time to various humanitarian work. To his credit, he was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2015, cementing his superstar status in the NBA.
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR—42 YEARS OLD
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who’s widely considered one of the best basketball players in history, and one of the most dominant players in the center position, played 20 seasons for the NBA. Indeed, all the awards, accolades, and distinctions he’s earned throughout his basketball career will require more than a few pages to list and explain. Suffice to say he’s one of the best, and not just during his time but in the whole history of the sport. In fact, Abdul-Jabbar still holds the record for leading scorer and most career wins. To his credit, he’s been named the second-best in history, behind only Michael Jordan.
BOB COUSY—41 YEARS OLD
The sixth oldest player to don an NBA jersey is Bob Cousy. And, the man, to his credit, didn’t just earn the distinction of being one of the oldest players in the league but has earned a lot of awards and accolades as well, including being a 13-time NBA All-Star, as well as being the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 1958. He retired in 1963 and signed up as a coach for Boston College, later transferring to the Cincinnati Royals. Interestingly enough, Cousy, at the advanced age of 41, went on to play 1 season for the Royals himself, boosting ticket sales by 71 % in the process.
HERB WILLIAMS—41 YEARS OLD
Herb Williams, whose stint at the NBA lasted for 18 years, holds the distinction of being the seventh-oldest player in the history of the NBA. He was the first-round draft pick of the year 1981, but unfortunately never really shone as a superstar in the years that followed. He played for the Indiana Pacers and had a career that, to some degree, can only be described as unexceptional. Well, at least he’ll always be remembered as one of the league’s oldest players. Williams is, however, currently an assistant coach for New York Liberty of the Women’s Basketball Association (WNBA).
JOHN STOCKTON—41 YEARS OLD
John Stockton is one NBA player who is notable for many things. Of course, he’s notable for being one of the longest playing NBA players in history, having retired at 41 years old. But he’s also quite notable for spending his entire career playing for one team, the Utah Jazz. That’s loyalty right there! Of course, Stockton is also notable for being one of the best point guards in history, holding the NBA record for the most assists and steals. Indeed, Stockton was, to his credit, not just inducted to the Hall of Fame but was named as one of the 50 greatest NBA players in history.
CHARLES JONES—41 YEARS OLD
Retiring at 41 years of age, there is no doubt that Charles Jones had a long, if not unremarkable, career in the NBA. He is, of course, one of the oldest players in the sport, and had at least that part of his career being noteworthy. He was selected in the 1979 NBA draft and started playing for the Phoenix Suns. Later in his career, he would transfer to various other teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, and a lot more else. Jones was, to his credit, able to win the NBA Championships with the Houston Rockets in 1995, the last team he played for before retiring.
THE OLDEST PLAYERS OF THE NFL
Football is one of the toughest sports. The game can be brutal and wholly unforgiving, and one has an increased probability of getting sacked at every play. Of course, by sacked, we mean a 200-plus pound linebacker throwing his weight at you, tackling you, and flooring you to the ground. Just the number of concussions one can get in a game of football is astounding, which makes the game not for the faint of heart. This is why it’s amazing to see relatively older players still in a game that was meant for the young, strong, and nimble. So, in this roundup, we’ve compiled some of the oldest players in the sport who, despite their advanced age, was still displaying a great deal of stamina and strength on the field.
WARREN MOON—44 YEARS OLD
Warren Moon was a 218-pound quarterback who was known to be one of the best passers during his time. Although he wasn’t drafted straight out of college like some of the best players were, he was able to sign up with the Canadian Football League, where he eventually led the Edmonton Eskimos to five Grey Cup Victories. Of course, the NFL took notice and signed him to the Houston Oilers, a team with which he eventually won the distinction of Best Offensive Player of the Year back in 1990. Moon retired at the age of 44, which means he has, to his credit, accomplished the feat of playing professional football well past his 40s.
VINNY TESTAVERDE—44 YEARS OLD
Vinny Testaverde, who played the quarterback for the NFL for a whopping 21 seasons, got the distinction of being the oldest quarterback to win an NFL game. First drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he performed exceptionally well despite his colorblindness. Interestingly enough, despite that he was often made fun of by radio presenters because of his condition, he was still able to rack up an impressive amount of points for his team and became, to some degree, an unstoppable force in the league. He joined a slew of other teams throughout his career and eventually retired at the age of 44.
STEVE DEBERG—44 YEARS OLD
Steve DeBerg, to his credit, got the distinction of being the oldest quarterback to start a game in the NFL in 1998. He actually emerged from retirement to play for the Atlanta Falcons at the advanced age of 44, thus earning himself a place in the history books. DeBerg, for the better part of his career, played the role of a backup player but was still known to be a very competent performer on the field, not least because of his stamina and strength. After DeBerg finally retired, he took on the role of head coach for the Indiana Firebirds and eventually became the assistant coach of the Tampa Bay Storm.
BOBBY MARSHALL—45 YEARS OLD
Bobby Marshall was a man who was said to be very talented in a good number of sports, but it’s safe to say that it is at football where he will be most remembered. Indeed, the unexpected injury of one of the University of Minnesota’s football players brought Marshall to the fore. He was drafted to replace the injured player and was later proclaimed to be “invincible on the defense.” Marshall played football at a time when black people were still being hobbled over their skin color, but he was, to his credit, able to rise above it all and prove he was more than competent on the field. He retired at the age of 45, making him one of the oldest active players in the history of the NFL.
GARY ANDERSON—45 YEARS OLD
Gary Anderson, born in South Africa, was an athletic kid who played a slew of different sports in school. He was, to some degree, a late bloomer when it came to playing football, having started playing at 18 years old after arriving in the US. Scouts all over the country took notice of the young Anderson’s drop-kicking skills, however, and soon he got a football scholarship at Syracuse University. He immediately rose in popularity when he started playing for the NFL because of his kicking skills, and indeed became the first kicker in the league to have a “perfect regular season.” Anderson retired from the sport at the age of 45, making him one of the longest playing NFL players in history.
BEN AGAJANIAN—45 YEARS OLD
Ben Agajanian is widely considered to be the first kicking specialist in the league. Indeed, Agajanian has, to his credit, been referred to as “The Toeless Wonder” because of his kicking skills. And this all amazingly happened despite the fact that four of the toes on his kicking foot was amputated from a previous working accident. Agajanian played for a slew of NFL teams throughout his career as one of the league’s most exceptional kickers, and eventually retired at the advanced age of 45. After retirement, Agajanian. went on to get another distinction, which is to become professional football’s first kicking coach.
JOHN NESSER—46 YEARS OLD
German-born John Nesser was playing football long before the NFL had been founded. Indeed, Nesser was already playing for local football teams in 1905 and even played for the Columbus Panhandles, a team established by Joe Carr, who would later become an NFL president. Nesser and his brothers were, to a huge degree, the main—and most talented—players of the Columbus Panhandlers, which eventually made them rise in prominence. Nesser’s brothers retired in 1921, leaving him, at 46 years old, to become the league’s oldest player. Although, it wouldn’t take long for Nesser’s record as the oldest player to be beaten. And it was beaten by non-other than his own younger brother, Ted.
JOHN CARNEY—46 YEARS OLD
John Carney was able to play for 23 seasons in the NFL. He played for various NFL teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, and a lot more else. It was already quite rare during Carney’s time for NFL players to still be active beyond the age of 35, but Carney was, to his credit, still playing beyond 40 years of age, eventually retiring at 46. Carney’s contributions to kicking were impressive, so much so that the 2-week course he developed called “The Launching Pad”—a course dedicated to kicking in football—became successful among the league’s premier kickers.
MORTEN ANDERSEN—47 YEARS OLD
Denmark-born Morten Anderson was widely referred to in the league as “The Great Dane.” He excelled at various sports prior to becoming nationally recognized as a great football player, particularly in soccer and gymnastics. When he went to the US as an exchange student, he took up football and impressed more than a few of the scouts watching, which led him to get a football scholarship to Michigan State University. He of course performed exceptionally well and got drafted into the NFL in 1982. Andersen’s skill at kicking field goals, and the degree to which his kicking was accurate and consistent, led him to be called “Mr. Automatic.” He finally retired at the age of 47, making him one of the longest playing footballers in the NFL.
GEORGE BLANDA—48 YEARS OLD
George Blanda is, to his credit, nothing short of a legend in the NFL. And it’s not only the fact that he’s the oldest player in football history that makes him a legend, it’s also the fact that, despite being well beyond 40 years of age, he was also the all-time leading scorer! The number of awards and accolades—and distinctions, we should add—that Blanda received throughout his storied career in the NFL are enough to make one’s head spin. Even Steve Perry, who was the executive director of the NFL’s Football Hall of Fame, didn’t mince words and described Blanda as an “ageless wonder.” Blanda passed away at the age of 83, but will always be remembered for the incredible feats he accomplished as a pro football player.