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NBA / Jul 29, 2011 / 3:15 pm

Final Destination: NBA Legends Facing Down Father Time

Paul Pierce

The road to retirement is a long one, and it’ll always start with this: He’s slowing down. He’s not the same player anymore. As they say, you can’t cheat death and you can’t escape Father Time when the hands start squeezing you, your breaths become shorter and the life starts dripping out of your legs. Final Destination.

But in this new age of the NBA, there are more ways than ever to prolong your career. New surgeries, nutrition, around-the-clock trainers, Yoga, even all of the splendid amenities that come with playing professional basketball, they all help to do what no one thought possible even 10-15 years ago: make a player’s relevancy last for longer than 15 years.

Just look at guys like Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan and Ray Allen. The oldest player on that list is Nash at 37 (doesn’t that sound incredible). The youngest player out of that whole group is Kobe (who will turn 33 in about a month). Every one of these All-Stars was relevant (Nash is probably the only one you can make a case for that he wasn’t) before the turn of the century, which is mind-boggling considering it’s now halfway between 2011 and 2012.

So now it’s becoming a game: when will these players fall off? Age doesn’t quite matter as much as miles. If you push yourself to a certain degree, it can work both ways: yes, you may stay in shape and become a better player, but the grind of a 24/7, 365-day season could end up costing you a year or two of shelf life. It’s a fleeting thing, this Father Time. You never know when it’ll hit.

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  • Yucca Man

    You have to be very careful comparing anyone to Malone and Stockton. Even among the best of the best—virtually nobody played so well so old. They were almost absurd in their durability.

    That said, Stock vs. Nash is a reasonable comparison because Nash has already played at a high level much older than any other PG.

    But Malone vs. Dirk? When every post player ever besides Malone had significant decline in his mid 30’s, it would be a bit optimistic to look at the Mailman to predict Dirk’s decline.

  • hahn

    really cool article- its crazy to see how many minutes kobe has played and yet his production is still pretty high.

  • Dan Tanner

    yeah Kobe will be around until he literally loses an appendage. The guy will not quit and he shouldnt have to, he is still averaging over 25 pts a night and will be 33. Bryant will probably play at a high level until 35, I would say he has 2, maybe 3 years left in him of high level play. It will be sad to see a player like Bryant drop off, he is truly one of the all time bests and there has not been a played since Jordan that achieved his success and did the incredible things he did on the court.

  • http://www.dimemag.com panchitoooo

    lately ive been trying to make my game more efficient so that i can still ball hard when im older. at the moment my legs are still pretty fresh but its never to late to prepare for the future.

    ive been working on things like change of speeds and change of dribbling tempo as well. im trying to do more with my two step after i pick up my dribble and really work on my triple threat, jab steps, pump fakes, and pivot footwork. i believe if i can master these fundamental techniques i can dominate on the court over the next 15 years. oh and ive been running alots of pick and rolls lately trying to get used to quick decision making and on the spot passing. hope you guys step your game up too…

  • Ozone

    The Sports Guy wrote virtually the same article almost 6 months ago.

  • King

    When he dies i think we’ll find out that John Stockton was an alien. Same thing with Kevin Garnett

  • Russ M

    82 game season is a marathon. 52 games would be to the benefit of both the players & the fans. And, yes, I’m totally aware that this will never even be considered.