Sometimes we watch NBA basketball games, and we see some players that make us question what’s the average retirement age for NBA players. If you are starting to play basketball and you are considering the NBA as a career, or if you are just interested and want to know at what age do NBA players retire, we can understand why this is an important question that needs to be answered.
Even though the NBA is centered around a game and the players enjoy their jobs because they get paid for what they do, the NBA is a very physically and mentally demanding job that can take a toll on NBA players. We will extensively cover the retirement age for NBA players by looking at the factors that influence retirement and what happens after retirement for these remarkable athletes.
Why Do Some NBA Players Retire so Early?
Many NBA players retire before the average retirement age, which is a shame from both an entertainment and a professional perspective. Unfortunately, due to circumstances outside of some player’s control, they are forced out of the NBA. Other players have to leave the NBA because of things they do or did not do. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why these guys retire early.
Injuries are some of the main reasons why NBA players have to leave the game they love so much. Fortunately for some players, small one-off or small treatable injuries won’t affect their careers because of modern medicine improvements. Multiple NBA players receive surgeries year after year and can return it to the game, but some are not so lucky.
Some players are injured so extensively they have to make a choice. They either have to choose a life outside of the NBA or a life of pain and misery wherein they will be mediocre or less NBA players if they continue. One of the most notable young players to have left the game because of injury is Brandon Roy.
Brandon’s knees were not able to keep up with the demands of the NBA, so he had to leave the sport despite numerous surgeries. Many other players undergo surgeries that are not entirely successful, and they end up leaving the game.
Lack of Skill/Talent to Compete
Some players perform extremely well at the high school and the collegiate level but cannot translate their great performances into NBA performances. Some people label these guys as busts. Some players can’t compete in the NBA after they get there, and if they can’t play overseas, they retire early.
Some players compete mediocrely for a few years, but then they are replaced by better players, and this also forces them into retirement. Players will choose to play overseas, but others will choose to find other career paths after retirement.
Game Change and Talent not In-demand
The NBA is a very dynamic league, and basketball is a very dynamic sport. There are changes in the way the game is played that players have to adapt to if they want to remain relevant and compete at such a high level.
One day a player may find themself dominating in a particular area of the sport, and within a few months, they find themselves out of a job because they can’t compete or keep up with the way the game is being played. Unfortunately, this is something that’s affecting traditional big men more than other types of players.
Traditionally, big men are usually responsible for scoring in the paint, grabbing rebounds, and protecting the rim. In today’s NBA, if you have a big that cannot pass the ball, make shots from outside, and create plays to some extent, that big is at risk to lose his place on the team to another player who can do these things. In the NBA, we see big men such as Blake Griffin and Brook Lopez changing their games to fit in today’s play style.
Big men like Roy Hibbert and Andrew Bynum could not adjust to keep up with the game, which was a contributing factor that led to their retirement. Don’t get us wrong, we know that guards that cannot shoot the ball are also finding it hard to compete and are also being forced into retirement.
The NBA is turning into a dunk or three league for the most part, and guards that do not have a good stroke from the outside are at risk of losing their roster spots.
What is the Average Retirement Age for NBA Players?
For the most part, a player’s position often determines what parts of their body are affected by the NBA’s intense play. The average NBA player retires due to not being able to compete at a high, efficient level anymore and if this is mainly due in part to their bodies’ condition.
For this section today on the average retirement age for NBA players, we will separate the players by position. We will look at the average retirement age for power forwards and centers, and we will also look at the average retirement age for guards and wings.
The average NBA guard normally retires in their mid-thirties. Guards are often able to play longer because they either adapt to the game’s changes quicker than bigs or their bodies hold up longer.
Some extremely physical guards find it harder to maintain their bodies because of the wear and tear they go through on a nightly basis. These guards may be forced to retire because of injuries earlier than the average guard.
Centers and Forwards
In general, centers and forwards normally retire in their early thirties. The really great ones outside of the average will have longer careers because their skill sets allow them to compete even when they get older.
The average power forward or center will go through a lot of banging in the paint on a nightly basis, so the mileage on their bodies will seem a lot higher than their ages. Bigs are often plagued by leg or back injuries as they approach the tail end of their careers, and these injuries often force them into retirement.
Do NBA Players Get Paid After Retirement?
Yes, most NBA players get paid a substantial amount after they retire. Let’s look at some of the sources of income that players can look forward to after life as an NBA player.
Many NBA players are smart enough to invest some of their NBA earnings into businesses that generate profits for them even after they are finished with basketball. There are multiple players that own various businesses that bring in money for them.
After a player retires, these businesses become revenue streams to bolster their after basketball income if they have profitable businesses. Some notable players with companies that they can profit from outside of the NBA are Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
Kevin Durant has Thirty-Five Ventures, and Lebron James has SpringHill Entertainment and others. A few notable former NBA players with businesses include Tim Duncan and Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is the owner of the Charlotte Hornets, and Duncan owns the BlackJack Speed Shop.
In addition to owning businesses, retired NBA players also become employees. Many retired NBA players find jobs in various other areas of the sport and some also go outside of the sport to find the other jobs.
Jobs within the NBA that retired players normally end up with include sports analyst positions, coaching positions, announcers, and other positions inside of NBA organizations. Some of the most notable NBA analysts that are retired NBA players include Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley, hosts of TNT’s Inside the NBA.
Doc Rivers and Steve Kerr are just a few of the former NBA players that are coaches in the NBA today. Reggie Miller is an announcer, and Larry Bird was a prominent member of the Pacers front office.
Penny Hardaway and Patrick Ewing are probably the most famous retired NBA players coaching in the NCAA. There are also former NBA players that coach at the high school level. A few of these include Mike Bibby and Mike Miller.
NBA players also have a 401k plan to look to after retirement. This 401K is quite lucrative and can provide a substantial amount of extra income to players. Here is a document with the details of the NBA’s 401K plan.
The NBA’s pension plan is the best pension plan in Pro Sports. The pension plan was recently revised to offer additional benefits to current players and players who retired before the plan was revised. NBA players can start receiving their pension as early as 45 years of age, but they are encouraged to wait for as long as they can in order to get more money.
In short form, the plan works for players that have played a minimum of three years in the NBA. These players would receive over $800 per month per year of service in the NBA. This structure can make a player receive over $200,000 per month from the pension plan if they are over 62 years and play more than 10 years in the NBA.
How Long is the Average Career of an NBA Player?
The average NBA player’s career is around 5-6 years. You may be saying to yourself that 5-6 years is not a long time for an entire career. You are right, but given the nature of the career, players that retire from the NBA should not be measured against the regular employees.
Many players retire from the NBA with much longer careers, but these are normally players that are really good at what they do and do not fall in the average. The longest NBA career record is 21 and is shared by a few players such as Robert Parish, Kevin Garnett, Vince Carter Kevin Willis, and Dirk Nowitzki.
Who is the Youngest Player to Retire?
While playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, Brandon Roy announced his retirement at the age of 27, citing severe knee injuries as the reason for this.
Top NBA Stars Who Retired Before Turning 35
Chris Bosh, Gilbert Arenas, Brandon Roy, Brad Daugherty, and Yao Ming are some of the greatest players that retired before they turned 35.
Wrapping Things Up: The Average Retirement Age for NBA Players
The average retirement age for players who played in the NBA is in the mid-thirties. Players retire for various reasons such as injuries, changes in the game, and others. Players that play in the post can change their playing style to adapt to the game to extend their careers, but if they don’t, they are normally out of the league in a short time.
After retirement, there are numerous ways a former player can bring some bacon home, such as business interests, endorsements, the NBA pension plan, and by other means.