The NBA’s 75th anniversary season is here and there are a number of active players that have made major contributions to the league for multiple decades.
This season, the league’s elder statesmen are a unique group that either once were household names and in one very unique case, is still arguably the best player in the league despite being in his 19th season. Hint: it’s LeBron James.
MORE: Where does LeBron’s peak rank all time?
LeBron being among one of the NBA’s five oldest players in the 2021-22 season only begins to highlight a special group of players that stand to carry out very specific roles this upcoming season.
Who are the oldest players in the NBA? Below, learn more about just how unique the circumstances surrounding the league’s most seasoned veterans are.
Who are the oldest players in the NBA?
Udonis Haslem (41), Heat
Born in 1980, the 41-year-old Haslem is the league’s oldest player. Entering his 19th season with Miami, Haslem trails only Kobe Bryant (20) and Dirk Nowitzki (21) for most seasons with one single franchise.
He might have appeared in a total of just three minutes last season, but Haslem is a key figure in the Heat’s locker room and will always be remembered for his part in each of the franchise’s three NBA titles.
Joe Johnson (40), Celtics
Initially drafted by Boston in 2001, Johnson returned to where it all began on a 10-day contract due to the NBA’s hardship exemption.
MORE: NBA’s hardship exemption, explained
Johnson joins Haslem as the only other NBA player above the age of 40.
Andre Iguodala (37), Warriors
After two seasons away, Iguodala is back in The Bay, where he won three NBA titles and was named Finals MVP in 2015.
The Warriors have plenty of talent at the wing, but the 37-year-old Iguodala is a savvy veteran that stands to play a key role as a perimeter defender and a playmaker on offense. Iguodala averaged 21.3 minutes of playing time over 63 games (five starts) with the Heat last season.
Carmelo Anthony (37), Lakers
If it weren’t for his new teammate, Anthony would be the most accomplished member of this list by far. A 10-time All-Star, six-time All-NBA performer and one-time scoring champ that currently ranks 10th on the league’s all-time scoring list, Anthony’s just about done it all.
MORE: Why did Carmelo sign with the Lakers?
One of just two remaining members of the historic 2003 NBA Draft class (see below for the other), Melo enters his 19th NBA season with the goal of capturing an elusive NBA title. After averaging 13.4 points per game last season with the Trail Blazers, Anthony can play a major role in Los Angeles this season and could very well spend time in the starting lineup as a stretch four.
LeBron James (36), Lakers
It’s amazing to think that despite being 19 years in, LeBron is still at the top of the league.
MORE: How LeBron can elevate his all-time legacy in Year 19
James, the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, ranked third on SN’s preseason player rankings behind players entering their 14th and eighth seasons, respectively. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for James to reclaim the top spot by the end of the season, which is insane to think about when considering the mileage he’s put on his body over the last 18 years, including 10 trips to the NBA Finals.
Paul Millsap (36), Nets
As another former All-Star on a title contender, Millsap has an opportunity to be an X-Factor for the Nets in his 16th NBA season.
As a member of the Nuggets last year, Millsap started in 36 of a possible 56 games, averaging 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. In Brooklyn, Millsap could start in the frontcourt alongside Blake Griffin or come off the bench and add a veteran presence with LaMarcus Aldridge, who ranks as the NBA’s 10th-oldest player in the 2021-22 season.
10 oldest players entering the 2021-22 NBA season
Below, find a list of the 10 oldest players entering the NBA season.
(Age as of Opening Night of the 2021-22 NBA season)