10 Players with the Longest NBA Career

NBA is the most challenging basketball league in the world where the players have to be perfect to prolong their NBA career. A lot of players get drafted and start their NBA careers every year. But only a few of them become able to earn the record of the longest NBA careers.

Obviously, being able to play in the NBA for a long time is not easy at all. Some suffer to cope with a new environment while others become victims of severe injuries and fatal health issues. Many also find it difficult to adjust with the NBA standard, making them bound to cut short their NBA career.

However, if you look at NBA history, you can also find many players shining later in this competitive league. As a result of their consistency and pursuit, they made it possible. In this article, we will highlight the achievement of those players for your knowledge one by one.

Who has played for the most NBA teams?

Chucky Brown, Jim Jackson, Tony Massenburg, and Joe Smith – these four players have played for 12 different teams in NBA history. Chucky Brown is the only player who took only 13 years for switching to 12 various franchises. Surprisingly, he even moved outside of NBA in this period to play for 3 other basketball teams.

Players with Longest NBA Careers

Many successful players have arrived in the NBA and also had very long NBA career. Among them, we have chosen the top ten players with most seasons played in the NBA:


10. Shaquille O’Neal

Regular Seasons: 19

Playoffs: 17

Season Games: 1207

Playoff Games: 216

Championships: 4

When a player achieves four NBA championships and three finals MVP in his NBA career, he hardly needs an introduction. Yeah, we are talking about Shaquille O’Neal, an ultimate NBA legend. In his 19 seasons career, he earned a total of 28,596 points with the recognition of 8th highest NBA point scorers.

With a 7 feet 1inch frame, Shaq was literally the synonym of scandalous terror to the opposition. Though he played for six different teams, he will be remembered mostly for his major contribution to Laker’s emergence in the 2000s.

He, along with Kobe Bryant formed one of the most powerful NBA duos of all time during his Lakers days. While passing 8 seasons there, he made a dynasty with 3 championships in a row. Later, he switched to multiple teams and kept his consistency as well. Hence, his 15 All-Star selection tells the rest of the story behind gaining such a long career.


9. Tim Duncan

Regular Seasons: 19

Playoffs: 18

Season Games: 1392

Playoff Games: 251

Championships: 5

The next player in our list is Tim Duncan, the Sun Antonio Spurs legend who showed loyalty to his club for 19 long seasons. After being the first overall NBA pick in 1997, Duncan won almost everything in his Spurs career whatever he could achieve as a player.

Initially, he played as a power forward but later moved to the center position where he also maintained his standard. Using his massive 6 feet 11inch body, he continuously developed himself to be a part of the most remarkable shot blockers in NBA. With career blocks of total 4225, he ranks 5th in that list.

But no matter in which position he played, Duncan never compromised regarding his game. After all, 15 All-Star and 15 All-NBA selection prove how consistent he had been in those years. Except for a single season, he played in 18 playoffs out of 19 seasons which is unbelievable indeed.

By spending 9370 minutes during playoffs, he holds the record of most career playoff minutes played in NBA.


8. Karl Malone

Regular Seasons: 19

Playoffs: 19

Season Games: 1476

Playoff Games: 193

Championships: Null

To get promoted to playoffs on every occasion during the entire career, you have to be real life iron man. That’s what Karl Malone exactly was in his 19 years NBA career. Out of them, he played in Utah Jazz for 18 seasons, making him one of the most loyal NBA players.

Standing 2nd in the NBA all time point leaders with 36,928 points, Malone was an absolute nightmare to the opponents for perfect utilization of his size and skills. According to many pundits, he was the greatest NBA player without NBA championship. By no means, that refrained himself from earning a glorious career.

With 14 All-Star and 14 All-NBA selection, Malone continued dominating other teams for nearly two decades. By making 9,787 free throws throughout his career, Malone’s free throw record is yet to be broken by any NBA player since his departure.


7. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

Regular Seasons: 20

Playoffs: 15

Season Games: 1346

Playoff Games: 220

Championships: 5

Without a question in mind, Kobe Bryant is the undisputed king of modern day NBA. Spending the whole career of 20 years in this generation is crazy but Kobe made it happen. After beginning the NBA career for the Lakers in 1996, he put an end to his NBA journey under the same den.

But what earned him such a successful NBA career? No wonder, it’s the perfect combination of his work ethics, competitive mentality and dedication to this game. Unlike others, Kobe set a standard of excellence both for him and his team to hunt the glory.

Kobe’s raw statistics are simply extraordinary with five rings, two finals MVPs, one regular season MVP, third all-time NBA scorer, four-time scoring champion, and the list goes on. Moreover, he keeps these stats veritable by being elected in 15 All-NBA teams, 18-time All-Star team.

Earning the honor of one of the best defensive shooting guards of all time is the outcome of his hard work. Undoubtedly, Kobe’s insane career achievements are real inspiration for the modern day NBA players.


6. Kareem Abdul Jabbar


Regular Seasons: 20

Playoffs: 18

Season Games: 1560

Playoff Games: 237

Championships: 6

Whenever you reminisce about the golden age of Los Angeles Lakers in the ‘80s, you are bound to mention the contribution of this man behind their success. Kareem Abdul Jabbar, a 7 feet 2 inch guy brought a revolution in the NBA during that time with his outstanding athleticism.

However, before moving to Lakers, Karim got traded in Milwaukee Bucks where he won his first NBA title in 1971. Since then, he won 5 championships with the Lakers along with 2 finals MVP award. In fact, his 19 All-Star selection and 11 All-Defensive inclusion tell the story of his presence among the legends having the longest NBA careers.

Spending 20 long seasons in the NBA just fanciful, that too with astonishing 38,387 points. Kareem made that happen using his unique style of play. No player in NBA history has been able to produce something like Kareem’s signature “Skyhook” shot which helped him to be a lethal scorer.

Averaging 24.3 points per game along with 15,837 field goals proves his efficiency as one of the most excellent NBA scorers of all time.

5. Kevin Willis

Regular Seasons: 21

Playoffs: 11

Season Games: 1424

Playoff Games: 98

Championships: 1

Playing for three different decades sounds unbelievable, right? 1992 All-Star player Kevin Willis did it to pass his NBA career from 1984 to 2007. His initial NBA days were in Atlanta Hawks for 11 years but later, he transited to 7 other teams in 13 years.

Nevertheless, the NBA fans will remember him mostly for his terrific performance for Atlanta. In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, he was a consistent performer for the team with 14.1 points per game. But the most significant achievement of his career arrived in 2004 when he won the NBA title for Sun Antonio Spurs.

Even though many know him for trash talking, Kevin Willis made his way in the NBA history book for playing till mid 40.


4. Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki

Regular Seasons: 21

Playoffs: 15

Season Games: 1522

Playoff Games: 145

Championships: 1

Have you ever heard any NBA player taking pay cut only to continue playing for his former club? If you didn’t, let me introduce with you Dirk Nowitzki, the most exceptional European NBA player. He came to the Dallas Mavericks as a newbie in 1998 and retired for them after playing 21 long seasons. That’s simply out of the world, isn’t it?

In particular, what’s about that pay cut saga? Well, Nowitzki minimized his salary from $25M per season to $10M to renew the contract with Mavericks in 2013. Obviously, the main reason was to continue playing for his beloved club even after lowering his salary. That shows how loyal he has been to his club, arguably the best among the longest tenured NBA players.

Throughout his career, he had been synonymous with consistency which gave him 14 All-Star and 12 NBA Star elections. At the same time, he became able to fulfill his long cherished dream of being crowned the NBA title for his team in 2011. Specifically, he played a vital role to gift his team such an honor by winning the finals MVP award.


3. Robert Perish

Regular Seasons: 21

Playoffs: 16

Season Games: 1611

Playoff Games: 184

Championships: 4

Ranked 3rd in our list, Robert Perish is the current record holder of most NBA games played in his entire career. During 21 years long career spanning from 1976 to 1997, he played wholesome 1611 matches. Starting from Boston Celtics, he ended his career while playing for Chicago Bulls.

In his initial days of the NBA journey, Perish got the opportunity to play with some legendary players who made him more productive. Yeah, we are talking about none other than Kevin McHale and Larry Bird. Perish, along with them ruled the NBA in their prime by making one of the dominant trios in NBA.

Even though, most of his career achievements arrived in the ‘80s, Perish played till 1997 with 9 All-Star and 2 All-NBA selections. Being a part of the NBA Hall of Fame is another memorable inclusion of his magnificent NBA career.


2. Kevin Garnett

Kevin Garnett

Regular Seasons: 21

Playoffs: 14

Season Games: 1462

Playoff Games: 143

Championships: 1

Another Hall of Famer, Kevin Garnett is one of the most renowned NBA players to the fans for multiple reasons. Some know him for his performance on the court, while others know him as the biggest trash talker in NBA. Still, continuing 21 years in NBA is a crucial part of his career without a doubt.

Known as KG, Garnett spent most of the time of his career in Minnesota, but he won the first NBA title while playing for the Boston Celtics in 2008. For his amazing defensive attributes over the years, he found himself 15 times in the All-Star team and 12 times in the All-Defensive team.

In addition to all these, he also won the 2003-04 season MVP award for his scintillating performance in that season.


1. Vince Carter

Vince Carter most seasons in nba

Regular Seasons: 21

Playoffs: 11

Season Games: 1541

Playoff Games: 88

Championships: 1

Who played the most seasons in the NBA? Here you go, Vince Carter is the only player in the NBA history to play for 22 years. The Atlanta Hawk veteran has passed his prime time in 7 different teams before coming to Atlanta.

In his final days of NBA career, he went back to his traditional forward position where he used to play in his early days. No matter what the playing position is, Carter never lost respect to the others for his professional attitude.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t manage to win any championship in his career but he got blessed with an Olympic gold medal in 2000. Also, he won the prestigious NBA Slam Dunk contest in 2000 for his superb dunking ability. Since he is the longest active NBA player, don’t be surprised to see him next year as well in the NBA.


So these are the top 10 players with the longest NBA careers according to our thoughts. Meanwhile, we consider some other players also deserve a place on this list. Here are the honorable mentions:

  • Jamal Crawford (19 seasons)
  • John Stockton (19 seasons)
  • Hakeem Olajuwon (18 seasons)
  • Tony Parker (18 seasons)


That’s all from us today. We hope you have enjoyed our article. Also, you can share an opinion about your favorite player who earned recognition for most NBA seasons played in his life.

Rafid Sobhan

97 articles

A professional sports article writer who is passionate about Sports, mostly about Soccer.


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