Vince Carter is one of the greatest high flyers the NBA has ever seen and should go down as a Hall of Famer when his career is all said and done. The fifth overall pick in the 1998 NBA draft, Carter is the fourth player in league history to play 21 seasons. This is an amazing honor but it begs the question: Where does Vince Carter rank among the oldest NBA players ever? Let’s find out.
5. Vince Carter (42 years, 32 days old on Feb. 27, 2019)
Most casual NBA fans will see that Vince Carter is still out there scoring hoops for the Atlanta Hawks and think no other player could possibly be nearing their mid-40’s and still have the talent to play in the league. It’s true that Carter is one of the oldest NBA players ever, but a few surpass him. However, few of the other players on this list have his accolades.
Carter has played for eight teams during his career and won Olympic Gold in the 2000 Summer Olympics. He was also Rookie of the Year for the 1998-99 season. Although the Hawks are struggling he still brings an excellent veteran presence to the locker room. The eight-time NBA All-star still looks like he has a lot left in the tank even though he’s the oldest active player in the league.
4. Dikembe Mutombo (42 years, 300 days old)
One of the best shot blockers in league history, Dikembe Mutombo was also one of the oldest NBA players to wear a uniform. He was drafted with the fourth overall pick in the 1991 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets. Mutombo clearly made his presence felt in the league as he was an All-Star his rookie season while averaging 16 points, 12 rebounds, and nearly three blocks per game.
Mutombo also led the Nuggets to one of the most improbable playoff upsets in league history. No. 8 seed Denver toppled the No. 1 Seattle Supersonics in the first 8-versus-1 upset ever. He played for six teams during his 18 season career, winning the Defensive Player of the Year award four times, and receiving eight All-Star nods.
3. Robert Parish (43 years, 254 days)
One of the building blocks of the second Celtics dynasty of the ’80s, Parish is widely considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time. Drafted in the 1976 NBA draft with the eighth pick by the Golden State Warriors, Parish won three NBA titles with the Celtics during his 14 seasons with the team.
2. Kevin Willis (44 years, 224 days)
Widely considered a consistent if not a spectacular player, Willis played 21 seasons between nine teams and won an NBA Championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003 during his age 40 season. He made one All-Star game in 1992 and is one fifteen players in league history to score 16,000 points and pull down 11,000 rebounds.
1. Nat Hickey (45 years, 363 days)
Just two days shy of his 46th birthday, Nat Hickey hung up his shoes and retired from the NBA. Hickey played for 10 teams during a career that spanned three decades and included multiple games as a player-coach. He entered the league in 1921 with the Hoboken St. Joseph’s and played his final two games in 1948 for the Providence Steamrollers.
One surprising fact about Hickey’s career was his durability, as he also played minor league baseball for 15 seasons during the same time span.
Hickery’s record will probably never be broken unless the league eliminates the one and done rule while simultaneously producing a prospect that can play 25 or more seasons.