It’s crazy to think that the oldest NBA player isn’t even in the Hall of Fame. I mean, playing until you’re 40 should get you some love, but it doesn’t. That tells you just enough about how good you have to be to be initiated.
Unlike other sports, the oldest NBA players of all time were quite prolific until their last days in the league. That’s impressive, because the speed, the quick first step and the athleticism seem to be the first things to disappear.
Oldest NBA Player
As for the oldest NBA players right now, we have LeBron James in the list, which pretty much goes without saying. Coming out of an All-Star season, James remains one of the best players in the league, so it’s clear that some ballers age like fine wine.
With that in mind, let’s now take a look at the list of the oldest NBA players, as well as the oldest NBA players of all time.
Oldest Active NBA Players
Oldest NBA Players of All Time
5. Dikembe Mutombo (C) – 42 years, 300 days
Dikembe Mutombo was one of the most dominant defensive forces of all time. He finished his career as the second greatest shot-blocker in NBA history with 3,289, averaging 2.89 swats per game. Mutombo is also tied with Ben Wallace for the Most Defensive Player of the Year award.
The Congolese big man and his signature wag of fingers were the opponent’s worst nightmares. He anchored the paint like few others in league history, leading the NBA in rebounds in consecutive seasons and three straight years in blocks.
4. Vince Carter (G/F) – 43 years, 45 days
Half man half great. Vince Carter put the Toronto Raptors on the map and should get a lot of credit for Canada’s growing love of basketball. While he never managed to win an NBA championship and the second half of his career wasn’t exactly impressive, some say he has a Hall of Fame case.
Vince Carter is considered one of the greatest dunkers of all time and holds the record for most seasons played at the age of 22. He is also the only player to appear in 4 decades (1990, 2000, 2010, 2020) and made the All-Star team 8 times.
3. Robert Parish (C) – 43 years, 254 days
When we talk about sustainability, we definitely have to talk about Robert Parish. The Boston Celtics legend holds the record for most regular season games (1611) and he was a huge factor in their post-season success, winning 4 NBA championships, 3 of which were in Boston.
While Parish was never a superstar, it was synonymous with efficiency and poise on both sides of the court. He scored more than 23,000 career points and averaged 14.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, reaching 9 All-Star selections.
2. Kevin Willis (F/C) – 44 years, 224 days
Kevin Willis is not exactly the most famous player of all time. In fact, most fans don’t know who he is, and he is more known as a successful entrepreneur at Willis & Walker, a company specializing in clothing for very, very tall and tall people.
But Willis holds the record for the most games played by all players not in the Hall of Fame (1424). Willis had a breakthrough year in 1992, when he averaged 15.5 rebounds per game and became an All-Star. He also won the NBA Championship in 2003 with the Spurs.
1. Nat Hickey (G/F) – 45 years, 363 days
Nicholas J. “Nat” Hickey is the oldest NBA player of all time. He served as a player coach and played a number of games for the Providence Steamrollers of the Basketball Association of America (BAA). The last time he played, he was 2 days away from turning 46.
The Croatian-American guard/forward played for the Hoboken St. Joseph’s, Eddie Holly’s Majors, New York Crescents, Cleveland Rosenblums, Chicago Bruins, Original Celtics, Boston Trojans, Pittsburgh Raiders, Indianapolis Kautskys, Buffalo Braves / Tri-Cities Blackhawks and Providence steamrollers. He was also a baseball player.