Father Time, in any sports, remains undefeated, but these five players proved they still got it despite being in their 40s.
Ginobili last played in the NBA in the 2017-18 season. He was already 40 years old at that time, but he still posted 8.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per Basketball-Reference. Although he had already lost that speed and agility that he had been known for in his career, he showed everyone that he could still get up in the air. You can see his dunk below:
What made Manu effective, despite being 40 years old at that time, was his high basketball IQ. He picked his spots, never forced things, and just let the game come to him. Manu was able to prolong his career by taking care of his health and being intelligent on the court.
Nowitzki, like Manu, played until he was 40 years old. But as proof that age is just a number, he was even selected in the All-Star game in his final year. Obviously, the spring in his step was long gone, but he utilized his superb shooting touch to torment the opposing teams. In the 2018-19 season, Dirk averaged 7.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per Basketball-Reference.
As shown in his highlights, Dirk had to use the high-arching shot more often late in his career. It was an effective weapon that we rarely see nowadays.
Stockton remains the NBA leader in assists and steals, and he showed that even in his 40s. He retired in the 2002-03 season and averaged 10.8 points, 7.7 assists, and 1.7 steals. Those were still great numbers considering his age. Like Dirk and Manu, Stockton prolonged his career by sticking to fundamentals and playing to his strengths. You can see a lengthy highlight video below in a game against the Golden State Warriors where he put up 26 points and nine assists when he was well into his 40s:
Karl Malone sits in 2nd place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list after putting up 36,928 points in 19 seasons. Like everyone on the list, Malone played until he was 40 years old. In his last season in 2003-04, The Mailman averaged 13.2 points and 8.7 rebounds. Those were terrific numbers considering his age and being surrounded by equally great players such as Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Gary Payton.
Malone was able to prolong his career because he took care of his body, not to mention, he was already blessed with a tank-like frame. Even though he was a power forward, which is often considered one of the toughest positions in basketball due to the grind in defending and scoring in the paint, Malone still put up highlights in the playoffs despite already in his 40s. Here’s a highlight of him shutting down Tim Duncan in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals in 2004:
Carter earned the nickname Air Canada because of his gravity-defying skills. Even though he only won the All-Star dunk contest once, he made sure the whole world remembers his jumping skills with this dunk below:
That dunk had many consider Vince Carter as the greatest dunker of all time. He did it with flair, tenacity, and in an actual game. However, in the latter part of his career, Carter became a floor spacer and a shooter. The video below shows VC at 42 years old, still displaying jaw-dropping performance:
These players were able to play until 40 years old because of their dedication to their craft. Age did not limit their production on the court. Even though some of them failed to win a ring during their career, the way they contributed and impacted the teams they played on is quite praiseworthy.