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List of National Basketball Association seasons played leaders

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Robert Parish was the first to play 21 seasons in the NBA, currently tied for the most in league history.

Only seven players in the history of the National Basketball Association (NBA) have played at least 20 seasons in their careers. In 1985–86, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar broke the previous NBA record of 16 seasons held by Dolph Schayes, John Havlicek, Paul Silas, and Elvin Hayes;[1][2][3] he finished his career in 1988–89 with a then-record 20 seasons played.[4][5] Robert Parish broke the mark in 1996–97, when he retired after 21 seasons,[6][7] and Kevin Willis tied him in his final season in 2006–07.[a][9] They were joined by Kevin Garnett in 2015–16 when he began his 21st season.[10] His Minnesota Timberwolves played their season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant, who became the fifth player to reach the 20-season plateau that night.[11] The game was the first time in league history that two opposing players each had at least 20 years of experience.[12] Having played his entire career with the Lakers, Bryant was also the first NBA player to spend 20 seasons with one team.[13] In 2017–18, Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter each began their 20th NBA seasons. Nowitzki, who has spent his entire career with the Dallas Mavericks, is the only player other than Bryant to have played 20 seasons with one team.[14]

In the NBA, big men typically have longer playing careers than smaller men.[15][16] Older centers and power forwards may have the luxury of pacing themselves while running the court, or they might station themselves in the post.[17][18] Big men Parish, Willis, and Garnett all had relatively minor roles while playing in their respective 21st seasons.[19] On the other hand, guards are tasked with handling the ball full-court; in addition, guards are more dependent on traits like speed and quickness that deteriorate with age.[17][18] Bryant was the first guard to play in 20 seasons,[13] passing the previous mark of 19 seasons for guards held by John Stockton and Jason Kidd.[20][21]

Seasons played leaders[edit]

Following is a list of players who have played the most seasons in the NBA.

^ Active NBA player
* Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Not yet eligible for Hall of Fame consideration [22]
Kevin Garnett began his career with Minnesota, returning later and tying the record of 21 seasons played in 2016.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired in 1989 with a then-record of 20 seasons played.
Kobe Bryant was the first guard to play 20 seasons.
Karl Malone played all but one of his 19 seasons with Utah.
Jason Kidd had two stints with Dallas in his career, retiring tied with a then-record 19 seasons as a guard.
Rank Player Position Team(s) Seasons
1 Robert Parish* C
21
Kevin Willis [a] PF / C
Kevin Garnett PF / C
4 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar* C
20
Kobe Bryant SG Los Angeles Lakers (1996–2016)
Vince Carter^ SG/SF
Dirk Nowitzki^ PF Dallas Mavericks (1998–present)
8 Moses Malone* C
19
James Edwards C
John Stockton* PG Utah Jazz (1984–2003)
Karl Malone* PF
Charles Oakley PF / C
Shaquille O'Neal* C
Juwan Howard PF / C
Jason Kidd* PG
Tim Duncan PF / C San Antonio Spurs (1997–2016)
Paul Pierce SG/SF
Jason Terry^ G

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Willis' career spanned 23 years, but he missed two seasons. He was out injured all of 1988–89, and initially retired and did not play in 2005–06 before returning for five games in 2007.[8]

References[edit]

General
  • "For single seasons, played in the NBA/BAA, in the regular season, from 1946-47 to 2016-17, sorted by most seasons matching criteria". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
Specific
  1. ^ Bonk, Thomas (September 28, 1985). "Lakers Move Closer to Signing Kareem for a Year or 2 More". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  2. ^ Johnson, Roy S. (May 22, 1983). "THE LONG-RUN SUCCESS OF KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  3. ^ Goldaper, Sam (February 12, 1984). "HAYES ENJOYING FAREWELL SEASON". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  4. ^ Murray, Jim (November 17, 1992). "A Chapter Closed, He Is Opening". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  5. ^ Pandian, Ananth (March 6, 2015). "For ticket sales the Lakers will honor Kobe's 20th season". CBSSports.com. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  6. ^ Armour, Terry (August 26, 1997). "After 21 Seasons, Parish Walks Away". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  7. ^ Bjarkman, Peter C. (2002). Boston Celtics Encyclopedia. Sports Publishing. p. 54. ISBN 9781582615646. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  8. ^ "Kevin Willis Stats". basketball-reference.com. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  9. ^ Carlton, James (July 7, 2015). "Garnett will become just the third NBA player to play 21 seasons". FoxSports.com. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  10. ^ "NBA short takes". The Starr-Tribune. October 31, 2015. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  11. ^ Beacham, Greg (October 29, 2015). "Kobe clears another milestone, begins 20th Lakers season". Associated Press. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  12. ^ Holmes, Baxter (October 29, 2015). "Kobe Bryant sets NBA record for seasons played with one franchise". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Top stats to know: Kobe Bryant's statistical legacy". ESPN.com. November 29, 2015. Archived from the original on November 30, 2015.
  14. ^ "Recap: Mavs fall to Hawks 117-111". The Dallas Morning News. Associated Press. October 18, 2017. Archived from the original on October 24, 2017.
  15. ^ Chalabi, Mona (November 30, 2015). "The Kobe Bryant outlier: how his career compares to the NBA average". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  16. ^ Groothuis, Peter A.; Hill, J. Richard (April 2004). "Exit Discrimination in the NBA: A Duration Analysis of Career Length" (PDF). Economic Inquiry. 42 (2). pp. 341–49. ISSN 0095-2583. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 2, 2015.
  17. ^ a b Evans, Rich (March 25, 2001). "Center court: Stock portfolio". Deseret News. Archived from the original on December 3, 2015.
  18. ^ a b Friedman, Dave (December 25, 2014). "Kobe Bryant is not as Good as Michael Jordan—So What?". 20 Second Timeout. Archived from the original on December 3, 2015.
  19. ^ Friedman, Dave (November 9, 2015). "The Twilight of Kobe Bryant". Twenty Second Blog. Archived from the original on December 3, 2015.
  20. ^ McWilliams, Julian (October 9, 2015). "Jalen Rose: Kobe Bryant 'Doesn't Want to Take A Back Seat'". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  21. ^ Newman, Pete (October 18, 2015). "The inconsistent season of Kobe Bryant". Sheridan Hoops. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015.
  22. ^ A player is not eligible for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame until he has been fully retired for three calendar years.