LeBron James and Vince Carter are two of the oldest NBA players ever.
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images (left), Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images (right)

The 10 Oldest NBA Players to Ever Step on the Court

LeBron James is the oldest active player in the NBA for the 2023-24 season, but where does he rank all time?

Basketball is not a sport for the elderly. The grueling 82-game schedule can break down even the best of the NBA's elite. Well, unless you're the 39-year-old LeBron James averaging more than 25 points per game this season.

With the recent retirement of everyone's favorite salt-and-pepper relic, Udonis Haslem, that leaves James atop the oldest current players in the league for the 2023-24 season. Haslem hung up the shoes at the ripe age of 43, so LeBron still has a ways to go to catch him. But given LeBron's recent 39th birthday, we thought it'd be a good idea to take a look at the oldest NBA players to ever step on the court.

Maybe one day LeBron will top this list.

10. John Stockton: 41 years, 35 days

John Stockton looks to make a pass.

Photo By: Brian Bahr/Getty Images

John Stockton is a Hall of Fame point guard, scorer and assists wizard who averaged over 13 points and 10 rebounds per game. The 10-time All-Star spent his entire career with the Utah Jazz and, therefore, never conquered Mt. Jordan, the perennial obstacle standing between Utah and an NBA championship. Even with Karl Malone towering by his side, Stockton never could get past the Chicago Bulls.

Stockton played his final game in 2003 at the age of 41 years old.

9. Herb Williams: 41 years, 129 days

Herb Williams looks on during an NBA game.

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Herb Williams was a 6-foot-10 center and power forward who played in the NBA for seasons with four different teams. Williams spent most of his time between the team that drafted him, the Indiana Pacers, and the New York Knicks, the team he retired with. Williams played his final game in 1999 at the age of 41 years and 129 days.

8. Bob Cousy: 41 years, 150 days

Bob Cousy squats on the court.

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Bob Cousy was a funny little man making funny little passes all over NBA courts from 1950-1971. The Hall of Fame point guard played his first 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics, winning six NBA Championships and making every All-Star team in the process.

Cousy retired after the 1963 season, only to come out of retirement for seven games in 1970 to help out the team he was coaching, the doomed-to-fail Cincinnati Royals. At the ripe age of 41, Cousy was not very helpful.

7. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 42 years, 6 days

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shoots the ball.

Getty Images/Bob Riha, Jr.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.) is a Hall of Fame Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers center who was an All-Star every damn season of his 19-season career. The former No. 1 overall pick and 1969-70 Rookie of the Year retired in 1989 after winning six NBA championships and six MVP trophies. Abdul-Jabbar had played the most games of any NBA player at the time of his retirement, a record broken by Robert Parish.

6. Dikembe Mutombo: 42 years, 300 days

Dikembe Mutombo holds his pointer finger up.

Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

No list of old ballplayers is complete without mentioning the 7-foot-2 Congolese-American center who played for 18 seasons. Mutombo is a Hall of Famer, eight-time All-Star, the 1991-92 Rookie of the Year and a Philadelphia 76ers legend. Mutombo retired with the Houston Rockets after the 2008-09 season because of an injury to his quadriceps tendon in a playoff game against the Portland Trailblazers.

5. Udonis Haslem: 43 years, 3 days

Udonis Haslem poses for a photo holding a basketball.

Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

The Miami Heat legend thought he would retire after a couple seasons ago and even received a standing ovation in his final game in 2021 after getting ejected for putting Dwight Howard in his place.

Haslem entered a playoff game against the Denver Nuggets on June 7, 2023, and suited up for the last time a few days later just after his 43rd birthday. He played in 879 regular season games, second in Heat history behind Dwyane Wade's 948.

4. Vince Carter: 43 years, 45 days

Vince Carter looks on while playing for Atlanta.

Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

Vince Carter is known for slam dunking so hard that it makes fans go Vinsane. But the Vinsanity doesn't stop there — the eight-time All-Star is one of the greatest passers in the game, too. The 1998-99 Rookie of the Year played for eight teams before retiring after playing in 60 games during the 2019-20 season. Though best known for his time with the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets (pre-Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets), VC also played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns. Carter retired in Atlanta.

3. Robert Parish: 43 years, 254 days

Robert Parish jogs during a Celtics game.

Photo by Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Robert "The Chief" Parish is a retired Hall of Fame center, a four-time NBA champion and a nine-time All-Star. He began his career in Golden State but is best known as a Boston Celtic, despite brief tenures with the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls. Parish started playing professional basketball in 1976, continuing to hoop until 1997, when he played with Michael Jordan and the Bulls at age 43.

2. Kevin Willis: 44 years, 224 days

Kevin Willis walks off the court for the Spurs.

Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Kevin Willis is a 7-foot NBA champion power forward best known for playing with the Atlanta Hawks. He was born in 1962 and played his final five NBA games during the 2006-07 season with the Dallas Mavericks (he played for the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs throughout his career, too). Willis had retired after the 2004-05 season and re-retired in 2007.

1. Nat Hickey: 45 years, 363 days

Nat Hickey, the improbable oldest player in NBA history record holder who you've probably never heard of, has an even more improbable story of how he got there.

In 1948, Hickey coached the Providence Steamrollers of the newly formed Basketball Association of America, the NBA's precursor. Hickey's team was so bad that he ran out of ideas as a coach and resorted to putting on a jersey himself. He played poorly in two games with his team, playing his last game just before his 46th birthday. Hickey was 45 years and 363 days old and wouldn't have lasted two seconds in today's NBA.

Oldest NBA Players in 2023-24

  1. LeBron James, 39
  2. P.J. Tucker, 38
  3. Chris Paul, 38
  4. Taj Gibson, 38
  5. Kyle Lowry, 37

MORE: The Shortest Players in NBA History Prove Size Doesn't Matter