Oldest Players in Sports: NBA

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In the NBA – as with most professional sports – time isn’t necessarily on the player’s side as he tears off a page on the calendar every year. While basketball, even at the professional level, doesn’t involve a ton of contact between players, the human body naturally starts to wear out as it ages.

This doesn’t mean, however, that NBA players don’t play into their late 30s and even into their 40s. Here, we checked the rosters of all 30 teams to see who made the list of the oldest players in the NBA.

Ageless Success

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The oldest person currently in the league is Kings player Vince Carter. At 40 years old, he’s lived four decades, nearly two of which have been spent playing in the NBA. Carter was drafted by the Golden State Warriors fifth overall in 1998 and has spent time with six teams. He is an eight-time All-Star and was the Rookie of the Year for the 1998-99 season.

Coming in second is none other than San Antonio’s shooting guard Manu Ginóbili. Gino was selected in the second round of the 1999 draft by the Spurs and has remained a prominent player on the roster since.

Dirk Nowitzki is the third oldest NBA player at age 39. He was drafted ninth overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1998 and immediately traded to Dallas, where he’s remained for his entire 19-year career. Nowitzki is a 13-time All-Star, the 2006-07 MVP, and led the Mavericks to their sole NBA Finals in 2011.  

Fourth on the list is Richard Jefferson of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He’s 37 years old and was also a high draft pick – going 13th overall to the Houston Rockets in 2001 – and similar to Nowitzki, was immediately traded to a new team right after the draft. His new team was the New Jersey Nets, where he spent seven seasons. He eventually made his way to the Cavaliers, where he helped the team grab its sole NBA Finals win in 2016.

The fifth oldest NBA player is Damien Wilkins, age 37. Wilkins was undrafted but was signed by the Seattle SuperSonics in 2004. The veteran player has actually been out of the league for four years (last playing for the Philadelphia 76ers) but was recently signed by the Indiana Pacers.  

No. 6 on our list is Udonis Haslem – suiting up for the Miami Heat at age 37. Haslem has three NBA Finals under his belt with the Heat but had to overcome a few obstacles in his career to get to that point, considering he went undrafted and spent a year playing for Élan Chalon in France.

Jamal Crawford, also age 37, is the seventh oldest NBA player. Crawford was drafted eighth overall in 2000 by the Cleveland Cavaliers and was immediately traded to the Chicago Bulls. Crawford was awarded the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award three times and has played for six NBA teams.

The rest of the top 10 include David West (age 37, Golden State Warriors), Nick Collison (age 36, Oklahoma City Thunder), and Joe Johnson (age 36, Utah Jazz).

Aged All-Stars

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While the oldest players in the last NBA All-Star Game weren’t that old, they also were not considered to be very young by professional sports standards. Carmelo Anthony, representing the Eastern Conference, was 32 (now age 33), and Marc Gasol, representing the Western Conference, was 32.

Carmelo Anthony, or Melo, has quite a few accolades. Including last year, he’s been selected to 10 All-Star Games over his 14-year career. He was also the NBA scoring champ during the 2012-13 season and was selected to the 2003-04 All-Rookie team. Drafted third overall in 2003 by the Denver Nuggets, Anthony spent the first chunk of his career in The Mile High City and is currently playing for the Knicks, where he’s been for the last seven seasons.

Marc Gasol is a Spanish-born player who has spent his entire career with the Memphis Grizzlies (after a post-draft trade). In total, Gasol has appeared in three All-Star Games and was selected as the 2012-13 Defensive Player of the Year. He was also selected to the 2008-09 All-Rookie team and continues to make an impact in Memphis.

Professionals at Any Age

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While some of the oldest players in the NBA aren’t really up there in years at all (yes, the list even includes a player in his 20s), we did look through each team’s roster to highlight the oldest player for each team.

Aside from the top 10 oldest players in the league, one name that stands out almost immediately is Dwyane Wade, the oldest baller on the Chicago Bulls at age 35. Wade played his first 13 seasons with the Miami Heat, where he was a part of three championship teams and was a nearly annual All-Star select with 12 appearances in a row. Wade now plays in Chicago for the Bulls.

Tyson Chandler, age 35, currently suits up for the Phoenix Suns. He was drafted No. 2 overall in 2001 by the Los Angeles Clippers, who subsequently traded him to the Chicago Bulls where he played for five seasons. Over his 16-season career, he’s played for several NBA teams, been an All-Star select in 2013, and an NBA Finals champion in 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks.

The youngest “oldest” guy on an NBA team is Evan Turner of the Portland Trail Blazers. At 28, his age indicates that the Trail Blazers are a pretty young team overall. Turner was drafted second overall in 2010 by the 76ers and over his 7-year career has played for four teams.

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Top 10 Oldest Players in the NBA

  1. Vince Carter (40) Sacramento Kings
  2. Dirk Nowitzki (39) Dallas Mavericks
  3. Richard Jefferson (37) Cleveland Cavaliers
  4. Damien Wilkins (37) Indiana Pacers
  5. Udonis Haslem (37) Miami Heat
  6. Jamal Crawford (37) Minnesota Timberwolves
  7. Pau Gasol (37) San Antonio Spurs
  8. David West (36) Golden State Warriors
  9. Nick Collison (36) Oklahoma City Thunder
  10. Joe Johnson (36) Utah Jazz

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The 30,000 Club: Dirk Nowitzki

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Dirk Nowitzki Joins the 30,000-Point Club

It’s a feat so rare, only five NBA players had achieved it before March 7, 2017. That’s when Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, who entered the game against the Lakers 20 points shy of the mark, clinched the milestone of scoring 30,000 career points in the second quarter in front of a raucous home crowd.

He joins NBA legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Kobe Bryant (33,643), Michael Jordan (32,292), and Wilt Chamberlain (31,419) on this exclusive list of those who have scored beyond the 30K mark.

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German-born Nowitzki was drafted ninth overall in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and was traded almost immediately to the Dallas Mavericks, where he has done nothing more than become a 13-time All-Star, a league MVP, and the 2010-2011 Finals MVP, when he helped the Mavs bring home their sole national championship. Oh, and he’s also the sixth NBA player ever to notch 30,000 career points, and he’s the first player who was born outside of the United States to do so.

Throughout his stellar career, he’s topped well over 1,000 points on multiple occasions. He even peaked at over 2,000 points in a few seasons. Reliable and steady, though he’s nearing the end of his career, he’ll always be remembered as one of the greats.

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Where do the other superstars of the game line up behind Nowitzki, and when will they hope to pass the 30,000-point milestone themselves?

LeBron James is sitting pretty at 28,316 points, and at 27.1 career points per game, can hope to join those six players in a little over half a season (assuming no playoffs, maintaining career average production, and he plays in all games). He’s currently playing in his 14th NBA season.

Russell Westbrook, who is in his ninth season as part of the Oklahoma City Thunder, can hope to pass the mark in a little over eight seasons. He currently has 14,650 points, so he’s almost halfway there.

Steph Curry, who has played for the Golden State Warriors every year for seven-plus seasons, can reach 30,000 points in a little over nine seasons. His current career total is 12,633 points.

Kevin Durant, who currently has 19,060 career points, can reach the milestone in a little over four and a half seasons. He currently plays for Golden State but spent most of the first part of his career in Oklahoma City.

James Harden, sitting at 13,117 career points, can notch 30K in a little over nine more seasons. Harden originally also played for the Thunder but has spent the last five seasons with the Houston Rockets.

Dwyane Wade is at 21,223 career points and can reach 30,000 if he continues at the same pace for a little more than four and a quarter additional seasons. Wade was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2003 and played there up until the 2016-17 season when he move to the Chicago Bulls.

Moments after he hit his 30K point, we ran this video in-arena for Dirk! #Dirks30K

A post shared by Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) on

While it remains to be seen how much longer the 38-year-old Nowitzki will play in the NBA, his place in professional basketball history was likely sealed before he hit the 30,000-point milestone. If you’re a Mavs fan and want to show your support of Dirk Nowitzki, head over to Fanatics.com.

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