Remembering the Iron-men of the NBA

Recently I’ve done a couple of posts on the oldest players in the NBA — players who play past the age of 35. Today I’ll take a look at the players at each position who have managed to play the most regular season minutes as an older player.

PG: John Stockton

John Stockton

  • MP: 12 938, 5th all-time

For NBA fans, it should come as no surprise that Stockton is the top in minutes played for older PGs. Stockton was really the first PG to play into his 40s, and helped pave the way for future “old PGs” like Jason Kidd and Steve Nash.

SG: Reggie Miller

Reggie miller

  • MP: 12 546, 6th all-time

Although he was 6’7″, Miller was a lithe 185lbs and more suited to playing shooting guard than small forward. As an excellent shooter, he managed to stick around because his game didn’t rely on explosive athleticism. He almost unretired and suited up for the Celtics in 2007; had he done so, he would have played past his 42nd birthday, but as it stands, he made it to just under 40 and has the most minutes played of any shooting guard.

SF: Grant Hill

Grant Hill of the Clippers

  • MP: 10 956 (and counting), 7th all-time

The man who missed a lot of his prime came back with something to prove. Hill’s career can be neatly divided into three parts:

  • From age 22 to 27, Hill played a total of 17 007 minutes
  • From 28 to 34, he only played 6 448 minutes due to chronic knee problems
  • From 35 to 40, he’s played a total of 10 956 minutes

If Grant Hill had been healthy in Orlando, we might be comparing LeBron to Hill, not Magic and Jordan.

PF: Karl Malone

Karl Malone as a Laker

  • MP: 15 023, 3rd all-time

How fitting that Malone would end up on this list with his pick and roll partner. The man who posted a triple-double at age 40 (and in only 26 minutes, too) and who finished his career as the NBA’s all-time leader in free-throws made and attempted — second in points scored and minutes played — spent a decent chunk of his career as an “old guy”.

C: Robert Parish

Robert Parish before and after

  • MP: 16 939, 1st all-time

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Parish played his last season with the Bulls in 1996-97, playing past his 43 year. The only player to play at an older age in the modern NBA (since the 1978-79 season) has been Kevin Willis (who played 43 minutes in 2006-07, when he was over 44 years old). But Parish had a much larger role as older player, leading to more minutes.

6th Man: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar skyhook

  • MP: 16 879, 2nd all-time

This list wouldn’t be complete without Abdul-Jabbar. Despite narrowly losing out to Robert Parish at the centre position, he still finished second all-time in old-man minutes. The original old man, Kareem was the first modern NBA player to play significant minutes during their 42nd year.

Honorable mention: Clifford Robinson

Clifford Robinson on the Nets

  • MP: 13 033, 4th all-time

Uncle Cliffy missed out on making the list because he played as a PF/C, and the top three in old man minutes all played centre or power forward. Poor Cliffy. He’ll have to console himself with the fact that he made over $61.5 million in his career, and that he made a ton of other impressive lists (one of which I’ll be posting shortly).

– Devin

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