Father Time is undefeated and this has been well documented over the history of professional sports. At one time or another, every athlete that has appeared timeless is eventually defeated. The world of basketball offers a unique realm of competition, in which players can compete at a high level into their late 30s and even beyond in some special cases. In 2014, we are still marveling over how teams are comprised of players primarily over the age of 30, such as the Mavericks and Spurs, who still manage to remain in playoff contention in the toughest conference.
There are players sprinkled all over the NBA that have lived for 35 years or more and are still collecting valuable NBA paychecks. Let’s check out the top 10 NBA players at the age of 35 or over.
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10. Chris Andersen
Chris Andersen has never averaged over eight points in his 12-year NBA career and has still managed to play over 10 years in the NBA coming out of Blinn College (Cam Newton played there for a year). The “Birdman” has been through a lot in his NBA career, being suspended two years for drugs and having many other legal issues with the Nuggets. After being cut by the Nuggets a few years ago, Andersen was 34 years old and on the unemployment line. Because, realistically, who would take a flyer on a 34-year-old big man, marred with legal issues? The Miami Heat, naturally. The Heat signed Andersen to a series of 10-day contracts and have never looked back. The Birdman has been recreated with the Miami Heat, causing erratic fans in the arena and at home, to flap their arms like crazy once the Birdman soars to the rim for a putback dunk.
Chris Andersen has recreated his image into something positive that millions of fans enjoy; he is the ultimate energy guy. He fits right into the gameplan of the Miami Heat, whom he captured his first illustrious NBA championship with last season. You can even ask Andersen about his role with the MIami Heat, he understands it well (via USA Today): “I just do what I do. I don’t really think about how many shots I made in a row or how good I am. I just continue to do what I do, and that’s come off the bench and bring defense and bring energy and run the floor and get to my spots. If LeBron calls me up, I’ll come up. If not, I’ll stay in the Bird box.”
This season, Birdman is averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game. Andersen has been heralded for his efficiency, since most of his shots come right at the rim. He’s converting on 66 percent of his shots, which is first in the NBA. No matter if he sits on the bench for 48 minutes or plays garbage minutes, he’s giving all his energy to cheering his teammates on or crashing the boards. Everything he touches around the rim seems to go in and he always seems to be in the right position for an easy bucket. Even at 35 years old, Andersen has validated his ability to be an important piece on a championship-winning team, something most 30-year-olds can’t have on their resume.
9. Ray Allen
Let’s be honest, by Ray Allen standards, he isn’t having the best season. But, Ray Allen isn’t playing in Miami to have great statistics. He’s trying to win as many rings as possible before his career is over, which could be as early as the end of this season. As we saw in Game 6 of the NBA Finals last season, Ray Allen still has the ability to hit a clutch three without having any time to think about it. His jump shot is still one of the quickest releases seen in the game and whenever it leaves his fingers, it looks like it’s going in. The man that has made over 7,000 three-pointers in his career is no longer among the league leaders, but still one of the best of all time.
This year we found out Ray Allen can still dunk too, which is pretty cool. Plus, he can still do things like this and this, much to the chagrin of Spike Lee, even though the two might be getting together for He Got Game 2, which is the greatest news I’ve ever heard in my life. His percentages aren’t there, but he’s still shown the ability to hit shots when needed, which is something that will never fade away. This season, Jesus Shuttlesworth is averaging 9.5 points on 44 percent from the field, 35 percent from three and 90 percent from the line. Per Synergy, Allen is shooting 47 percent on transition threes, one of the hardest shots to hit in basketball. He’s only shooting 35 percent from three, but still has 12 games shooting 50 percent or better from three-point land. Jesus Shuttlesworth is in the latter stages of his career, but he’s still Jesus Shuttlesworth. You can have Steph Curry, I’ll take Ray Allen anyday of the week, even at 38 years old.