What Is The Average Retirement Age Of An NBA Player?

Average Retirement Age Of NBA Player

NBA players retire typically in their mid-thirties due to factors like health, contentment, position, and level of play. The average retirement age for NBA players is around 35-39 years old, with some extending their careers into their 40s, often prompted by injuries or a decline in performance.

Everything will come to an end. Even if you are great, how talented you are, or even if you are doing good in the present, always be ready for the finale. No matter how good an NBA player is, there will be a time that he needs to wave his hands and bow down to the crowd.

In the NBA, players retire for different reasons and at different ages. Some retire at the age of 30s and some in their 40s. Most NBA player’s retirement reason is health, but as long as they are fit and healthy they can play longer. Even though health is the usual reason for NBA players to retire, there are still many factors to consider that make an NBA player retire.

This article will take a peek at some factors that NBA players consider before they finally say goodbye. We are also going to talk about the real average retirement age of an NBA player. 

If you are ready, keep reading.

Average Age Retirement Of An NBA Player

There is no correct or wrong answer because there are many reasons that led NBA players to retire. Other players choose to retire because of contentment. Sometimes players are forced to leave the game because of gruesome injury or because there are no teams that want to sign him.

Because of researching and based on my observation, I concluded. Most NBA players retire in their mid-thirties, 35-39 years old. Few NBA players have managed to play until their 40s. Out of 4000 players who have played the game, only 27 players managed to play until they are in their 40s.

Why Do Many Players Retire In Their Mid-30s And Few In Their 40s?

It will come to a time that an NBA player needs to retire even if he is astounding in his rookie year or his prime year. Most NBA players hit their prime in their mid and late 20s while some diligent players hit their prime in their early 20s, it depends on the work they apply every day.

Most NBA players lost their gameplay in their mid-30s and became a burden to their team. They retire because they think it is the only way to save their team from losing. Also, when the players get old, the more they are prone to injuries and less likely to recover quickly because their bodies change. Growing old will also make the NBA player’s body weaker and inanimate. 

Many factors determine an NBA player before retiring, but if a player has a history of gruesome injury, he will most likely retire earlier. Retiring is the best way for a player to protect both his health and legacy. Let’s take a look below at some factors that come into consideration before NBA players retire. 

1. Health

The first factor they consider before retiring is their health. As players get old, the less energy they will have in playing, and they will be more prone to injuries. If players feel that their bodies become weaker than their younger selves, they will most likely pass the torch to the young generations and have their shot in the NBA.

2. Contentment 

Most players that retired earlier are satisfied with their achievements and feel contentment. Achieving different kinds of recognition, awards, and winning championships are one of the main goals of an NBA player. Some players achieved many milestones earlier than others that make them content and most likely to retire earlier. Players who are in their late 20s that haven’t won a single championship will most likely play until their 30s in hopes of getting one. 

3. Position

A player’s position may affect their retirement age. You often think that big players like Power Forwards and Centers seem to retire earlier because they take hard bumps inside, that’s where you go wrong. 

Big man players are the players that will most likely retire in their late 30s because they can change their game style and play more gently. They can also spend less time on the court and still bring value to their team. On the other hand, forwards and guards retire earlier than big man players because they move more around the court, and they do most of the heavy tasks. 

Dwayne Wade is the example of a player that retired early because of taking many physicalities inside the court. Wade’s body was built for physical plays and high level of plays like posterizing, circus shots, and hand to face fade away jumps. But as soon as he gets old, his body and type of plays have changed. 

Wade injured his wrists and knees many times caused by a lot of collisions mid-air with taller players than him. As I have said, Wade plays many physicalities for him to score a basket. It was his style of plays that made him a great and famous player. 

When you think of it, players have to work out hard to be able to compete with other players and keep their bodies in the best shape. After training hard every after a season ends, they will play 82 games continuously. When you combine those efforts and hours of work, you’ll realize that it is exhausting to become a professional basketball player. 

Combining the time of working out in the gym and their schedule will make you realize the amount of physicality a player gets. This is why NBA players retire earlier because their physical body is exhausted. 

4. Level Of Play

Every season there will be a new set of younger players that will play for the league. There will also be a slight change in the level of play every season. Older players may not be able to keep up with the young players’ level of play that is why they think they should retire. Players that retire early believed that it is better to be remembered by fans for their prime year play rather than their old, low type of plays. 

Top NBA Players And Their Retirement Age

Here is the list of impressive NBA players and their retirement age. We will also give you the reason why they retired. 

1. Kobe Bryant

Retirement Age: 36

Reason: Injury

Kobe Bryant voluntarily retired last 2015 after playing 20 seasons in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant won 5 championships, 1 Most Valuable Player Award, and 2 Finals MVP.

2. Shaquille O’Neal

Retirement Age: 39

Reason: Injury

Shaq retired last 2011. O’Neal played 19 years in the NBA for various teams. Shaquille won 4 rings, 1 Most Valuable Player Award, and was on the NBA all-defensive team three times.

3. Tim Duncan

Retirement Age: 40

Reason: Age

After Duncan played for the San Antonio Spurs in his whole career, Tim Duncan retired in 2016. He won five championships and started coaching career in Spurs recently.

4. Charles Barkley

Retirement Age: 37

Reason: Injury

Charles Barkley decided to retire last 2001 because of a severe injury in his quadriceps tendon. Barkley is currently a sports broadcaster and analyst in ESPN. 

5. Karl Malone

Retirement Age: 39

Reason: Injury

Injuries led Malone to retire. He played 19 seasons in the NBA and finished a total of 36,928 points. 

6. Michael Jordan

Retirement Age: 40

Reason: Age

Michael Jordan attempted to retire three times before retiring officially last 2003. Jordan managed to win six championships with the Bulls with the help of Pippen and Dennis Rodman.

7. Steve Nash 

Retirement Age: 41

Reason: Age

Steve Nash is one of the best point guards that played in the league, and he officially retired last 2015. Even though Nash played at his highest level every game, he didn’t manage to win a single championship ring. 

8. Dirk Nowitzki

Retirement Age: 40

Reason: Age

The German player who played 21 seasons for the Dallas Mavericks retired last 2019. Dirk Nowitzki won one championship with the Dallas Mavericks. He played his whole career with Dallas. 


As you can see in the example above, most players are forced to retire because of injuries. Even though injuries are the primary cause of players retiring, the retirement age of players still depends on the skills they have, the ability to get new contracts, and contentment. Some players have managed to push their careers past the age of 35 years old, and others cannot. 

Even though the players we love to watch in their prime year retire earlier than we expect, we still have to give gratitude to them because of the astounding performance they showed us. 

Do you think there will be a player that will play until his 50s? Let’s hear your opinions in the comments section below!

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