List of National Basketball Association seasons played leaders
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; he finished his career in 1988–89 with a then-record 20 seasons played. Robert Parish broke the mark in 1996–97, when he retired after 21 seasons, and Kevin Willis tied him in his final season in 2006–07.[a] They were joined by Kevin Garnett in 2015–16 when he began his 21st season. 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. The game was the first time in league history that two opposing players each had at least 20 years of experience. Having played his entire career with the Lakers, Bryant was also the first NBA player to spend 20 seasons with one team. 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.
In the NBA, big men typically have longer playing careers than smaller men. Older centers and power forwards may have the luxury of pacing themselves while running the court, or they might station themselves in the post. Big men Parish, Willis, and Garnett all had relatively minor roles while playing in their respective 21st seasons. 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. Bryant was the first guard to play in 20 seasons, passing the previous mark of 19 seasons for guards held by John Stockton and Jason Kidd.
Seasons played leaders
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 |
|Kevin Willis [a]||PF / C|
|Kevin Garnett†||PF / C|
|Kobe Bryant†||SG||Los Angeles Lakers (1996–2016)|
|Dirk Nowitzki^||PF||Dallas Mavericks (1998–present)|
|John Stockton*||PG||Utah Jazz (1984–2003)|
|Charles Oakley||PF / C|
|Juwan Howard||PF / C|
|Tim Duncan†||PF / C||San Antonio Spurs (1997–2016)|
- List of National Basketball Association career games played leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career minutes played leaders
- List of NBA players who have spent their entire career with one franchise
- List of oldest and youngest National Basketball Association players
- 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.
- "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.
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- 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.