If everyone had their way, their favorite NBA players would never retire and play on forever. But that simply isn’t possible, because as superhuman as NBA players appear on and off the court, they are still just human. Retirement for NBA players is bound to happen, but sometimes it can be prepared for in advance, because not every player retires at the same time.
When do NBA players retire? NBA players generally retire in their mid-to-late 30s, although this is just the average. There is no age requirement or any other requirements to retire in the NBA, and players can retire at any time. NBA players can receive retirement benefits from the league as early as the age of 45. The average retirement age for players who retired in the 2021-2022 NBA season was 36.5 years old.
As of 2022, no NBA player has ever played past 45 years of age. Nat Hickey, still holds the record for oldest NBA player ever. Set in 1948. Hickey was 45 years and 363 days old when he last played in an NBA game. The oldest Active NBA player is Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat, who will be 43 when the 2022/23 Season starts.
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Why do NBA players retire?
The NBA is a very physically and mentally demanding game. The intensity of the league means that the players’ bodies are subject to a lot of wear and tear, as well as injuries they have suffered in the time they have spent in the league. Some injuries go so far as forcing a player into retirement at an early age. But overall, after years of playing, the point comes where the human body cannot handle the level of physicality required to play in the NBA, and players choose to retire when they believe they have reached that point.
While bodies do start to break down after some time in the NBA, many players often adjust their games and carry on. However, they lose their ability to contribute as effectively as they did before since adjustments keep becoming more difficult each time, especially physically. This means that either the player themselves decides that it is time to retire, or teams no longer employ their services, which eventually leads the player to retire.
Other reasons for retiring are to move on to a life after basketball. This is a common reason given by many players, especially once they have families and do not get much time with them during the regular season due to all the traveling and practice.
What is the average career length of NBA players?
The average career length for an NBA player is just shy of 5 years. While this may not correlate with the average retirement age, that is because many NBA players do not retire from professional basketball once they aren’t in the NBA. Instead, they continue to look for playing opportunities in other leagues worldwide. They may also make periodic appearances in the NBA at different stages of their career depending on team needs. Therefore, even though the average professional basketball career length may be close to 15 years on average, the average NBA career length is substantially less.
What do NBA players do after retirement?
There are lots of things that NBA players do after retirement, and prospective ideas are only increasing every year. Many stay close to the game by becoming coaches, joining NBA front offices, or promoting basketball in their communities. This also extends to media, where you can often find retired players providing commentary and analysis on TV. Other players dedicate a bigger chunk of their time to business endeavors that they may or may not have already started when they were still playing, including things like sponsorships and brand endorsements. Some players decide to go back to school, or get a new hobby or passion, ranging from politics to social work and more. And many more decide to just relax and spend time with family; simply put, there’s many things that NBA players can do after retirement.
What happens to NBA players who retire in the middle of a contract?
It can get a little complicated, depending on why a player chooses to retire. Retirement in the NBA usually isn’t considered formal and therefore is not binding, unless the player chose to file a formal retirement with the league office. If a player chooses to retire with no reason given, they may do so but their contract is voided and is no longer paid. Formal retirement is usually done because of two reasons: firstly, if the player wants to retire but his team is against it, then a player can apply for formal retirement and if successful, cannot be reinstated for one year. Secondly, if a player has to retire for injury-related reasons, he can apply for formal retirement and if the league approves, he is still paid by his team.
Can NBA players come back to the NBA after retirement?
Yes, it is possible! Sometimes the urge to get back into the game is unavoidable, and if teams think a retired player can still be productive, they end up getting another chance. Look no further than Michael Jordan himself, who did it not only once, but twice! Other notable players to have come back from retirement include Magic Johnson, Bob Cousy, George Mikan, Rasheed Wallace, and Sydney Moncrief, and a few others.
There are certain rules and regulations in place, especially regarding if any team still holds a player’s rights (otherwise, players would just retire and immediately unretire if they wanted to change teams or “abuse” the system in another way), but generally, a retired player must wait 1 year before they can come back to the NBA.
Do NBA players get paid after retirement?
Yes, NBA players get paid after retirement. Depending on the nature of their retirement, NBA players still may be receiving the remaining salary on their contracts even after they have retired. Furthermore, retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the NBA are eligible for the NBA’s pension plan. Pension payments differ based on years of service and the age when the retired player chooses to opt in.
Retiring from the NBA may seem like a sad thing, but there’s a lot in store left for these players once their NBA career is over. They get to live their lives, inside or outside the world of basketball, and often find themselves in the public eye every now and then. Retirement is not the end, and for many NBA players, it’s just the beginning!