Much like every other sport, it is very difficult to stay relevant, let alone stay in a starting team, once you get older. The young guns come in and take your spot, and you slowly fade away into a bench player, or even out the team all together.
However, there are a few older players who are still their team’s secret weapon, the stalwart, the player they rely on to win a game, or to see a victory out. These players haven’t let their age stop them, and they are the NBA veterans who still run things on the court.
Obviously LeBron is at the top of this list. The King has been the ruler of the court for years now, and he doesn’t look like he is slowing down, even at the ripe old age of 36. For a professional sportsman to still be putting in performances like he does at that age, is a testament to his ability.
Last season’s final saw him out in a memorable performance against the Heat in game 5, registering 40 points, 7 assists, and 13 rebounds. The Lakers would ultimately lose the game by 3 points, but would win game 6, and seal Lebron’s fourth NBA title.
2021 is set to be another bumper year for LeBron and the Lakers, and with the Tokyo Olympics back on, and the USA having already qualified, we are sure to see him put on the team USA jersey and try to seal a third Olympic gold medal.
CP3 is another obvious addition to this list. Starting his career all the way back in 2005 with the New Orleans Hornets, now the Pelicans, the 35 year old has been prolific to say the least.
The 11 time All-Star has yet to win a championship, even though he has spent his career winning multiple individual awards. Many believe his time to win a final is drawing to a close, but considering how good he really is, he definitely has the ability to take his team, the Suns, to a final.
He has also won 2 Olympic golds, has been a 4-time NBA First Team player, has been a 4-time assists leader, the Rookie of the Year, and also just recently dropped a season high 34 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists against the Mavericks. Don’t write Chris Paul off just yet.
Melo is next on the list. The Brooklyn native started his career back in 2003 with the Denver Nuggets, and has been setting the NBA on fire ever since. He is also one of the few players to have represented the US at the Olympics 4 times, winning 3 gold medals and a bronze in Athens.
Anthony is a 10-time NBA All Star, the NBA Scoring Champion in 2013, as well as boasting incredible scoring, rebound, and assist statistics. Even at 36, he is still a player any team would love to have.
His 2021 season is already off to an incredible start, on January first he went above Tim Duncan into 14 place on the NBA scoring list. On February 2nd he went above Dominique Wilkins into 13th place on the NBA all-time scoring list, and on February 9th, he went Oscar Robertson into 12th place on the NBA all-time career scoring list. Melo isn’t done yet.
A bit of a dark horse, but Mike Conley has proven himself to be a vital asset at the Jazz. Having come off one of his worst seasons ever, he is already shining at a team that is seen as a contender for the best team in the Western Conference.
He is dominating in assists and steals, and can be the man the Jazz need to make a serious drive towards the conference finals. He had a stellar career at the Grizzlies, and many find it surprising that he has never been an All Star.
However, 2021 could be a great year for him, and teaming up with Rudy Gobert could make the duo a force to be reckoned with, as well as making the Jazz a team that should be feared.
Another player that many may have forgotten about, but Jeff Green is now the best defensive player at the Nets, in a department that is sorely lacking within the team. Not only that, but he has a new lease on life within his career, and has been an incredible player for the Nets so far.
Add that to the fact that he has now been teamed up with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden, his defensive ability mixed with this formidable attacking force could make the Nets a team that many others will be scared of.
While these are only a handful of the veterans still plying their trade in the league, it is proof that in a lot of cases, age is just a number, and the knowledge and skill you bring to a team is what sets you apart from younger, more energetic players.
We only have to watch this season to play out to see if these old dogs can still bring the fire they are famous for, or even if they can learn a few new tricks, and show all the young bucks how it’s done.