Not so long ago, Kobe Bryant adopted the “Vino” (wine) nickname because he considered that - just like wine - he got better and better as years went by, and even though we all know that wasn’t exactly true, some athletes seem to cheat father time for a long time and thrive as elders.
We’ve all seen the Uncle Drew’s commercials featuring Kyrie Irving and some other famous ballers dress up as if they were in the last years of their lives to play some pickup basketball and kick some young blood’ butts, but what if we told you that there have been several real life Uncle Drews?
As a matter of fact, Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki are entering this season with 40 and 39 years old respectively, and even though we're not expecting a breakout year from any of them (especially from Vince), other players were as dominant as if they were in their primes when they entered their 40th age season. Today, we’ll name you the 5 best performances at age 40.
5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
The NBA’s historic leading scorer and one of the best players to ever lace them up didn’t miss a bit during his 40-year-old season, starting 80 games and averaging over 28 minutes per contest. But when it mattered the most, the veteran big man was playing lights out, averaging 19.2 points, almost 7 boards and just under 2 blocks per game in 31 minutes, putting the icing on top of the cake with another NBA Championship.
4. Karl Malone
Karl Malone is perhaps the best player in NBA history never to win the Larry O’Brien trophy despite being a perennial All-Star and one of the most strong and dominant players this sport has ever seen. And that’s exactly why he decided to join forces with Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant to form the fab four, a team that was a major flop but that still gave him some impressive stat sheets, being the older player to record a triple double and averaging 13 points and 9 boards per game in 32 minutes at age 40.
3. John Stockton
There’s never going to be another John Stockton, and even though some other point guards like John Wall or Chris Paul are also incredible passers and very good defenders, nobody’s ever going to match up with John’s skills. Stockton was never much of an explosive scorer and he had Malone to handle that kind of duties, nonetheless, he still managed to average over 12.5 points and 10 assists per game at age 40, eventually retiring the next season after yet another failed playoff stint.
2. Robert Parish
Besides being the oldest player in NBA history at age 43 (until Carter or Dirk decide to take down his record) and being the all time leader in games played with over 1600 appearances, Robert Parish had an incredible run during his 40 year season, averaging 11.7 points, 7.3 boards and over 1 block per game in almost 27 minutes on the court, as well as playing in 74 of the 82 games of the season.
1. Michael Jordan
And last but not least, we get the best player in the history of the game: Michael Jordan. After a couple of retirements, Jordan decided to go back to the hardwood and play with the Washington Wizards after spending over 3 years on the sidelines. Of course, he wasn’t nearly as explosive and dominant on defense as he used to be during his Bulls tenure, but he was still able to average 20 points, 6.1 rebounds and almost 4 dimes per game in 37 minutes on the court, making 67 starts and playing in all 82 games of the season.