The National Basketball Association (NBA) has seen thousands of players come and go since its inception in 1946. However, one record that remains unbroken is that of the oldest player to have ever played in the league. This honor belongs to Nicholas J. "Nat" Hickey.
Nat Hickey: The Oldest NBA Player Ever
Born in 1902, Nat Hickey holds the record for being the oldest player in NBA history. He played his last game during the 1947-48 season when he was 45 years and 363 days old. Despite advancements in modern sports science allowing many NBA players to extend their careers, Hickey's record still stands today, over seven decades later.
Hickey's NBA career was brief, playing only one game in the 1947-48 season. Despite his short stint, his record as the oldest player in the league remains unbeaten. His age at retirement is a stark contrast to the average retirement age of NBA players, which hovers around 35 years old.
Other Notable Oldest NBA Players
While Hickey holds the record, several other players have had impressively long careers in the NBA. Kevin Willis, for instance, played until he was 44 years and 224 days old, making him the second oldest player in NBA history. Robert Parish, another notable player, retired at the age of 43 years and 254 days, making him the third oldest.
Vince Carter, known for his longevity and regarded as the greatest dunker in basketball history, retired in March 2020 at the age of 43. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, played until he was 42 years and 6 days old.
The Legacy of Age in the NBA
Despite the physical demands of professional basketball, these players have shown that age is just a number. Their careers are a testament to their skill, determination, and love for the game. They have defied the odds and continued to play at an elite level well into their 40s, inspiring younger generations of players.