Lebron James entering his 21st season at 38 makes him the oldest active player in the NBA. How many more years the four-time league MVP can play is yet to be seen, but there are players who already defied the odds and were in the league heading on to their 40s.
Here is a look at the five oldest players who ever played in NBA history. These players defied time and showed that age is just a number in the world of basketball:
5 players who played the longest in the NBA
There are a total of 31 players who were able to stay in the NBA beyond their 40s and included in that list are Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd, Michael Jordan, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Karl Malone, Manu Ginobili, Grant Hill and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
5. Udonis Haslem
42 years, 363 days
Among the players in this top five, Udonis Haslem is the only player who stayed with one team. Playing with the Miami Heat for 20 years, Haslem was able to be part of the team’s three championships in 2006, 2012 and 2013. His loyalty to the organization prompted the Heat’s president to say that they will retire his jersey No. 40 someday.
4. Vince Carter
43 years, 45 days
Playing in the league for 22 seasons, Vince Carter proved to be one athletic specimen. People remember him from the highlight material dunks but his conditioning is something else. Carter played for eight different teams and is most remembered for his days with the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets. The eight-time NBA All-Star is also inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
3. Robert Parish
43 years, 254 days
Robert Parish is known for having formed the Boston Celtics trio alongside Larry Bird and Kevin McHale in the 1980s. He won three championships with them in 1981, 1984 and 1985.
Parish stayed long enough to be traded to the Chicago Bulls before the 1996-1997 season and have another run at an NBA championship with Michael Jordan. His accomplishments warranted him to be part of the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame and is part of the 75th Anniversary Team.
2. Kevin Willis
44 years, 224 days
In his younger years, Kevin Willis was known to be the duo tandem of Dominique Wilkins with the Atlanta Hawks. He was an NBA All-Star in 1992 but his taste of winning a championship came only in his 18th season playing alongside Tim Duncan and David Robinson in 2003.
1. Nat Hickey
45 years, 363 days
Standing only 5-foot-11, Nat Hickey, dedicated his life to basketball and played in the league until almost his 46th birthday. Beyond the years he played, Hickey also made a living as a basketball coach. Aside from basketball, Hickey played 15 minor-league baseball seasons as an outfielder.