Making it to the NBA is tough. Staying there and establishing as a productive piece of a roster is nearly impossible. That’s why so many players are left off over the years, give up on their NBA careers and end up taking their talents to another professional league.
There have been countless players who peaked early or thrived because of their system. Others suffered injuries that derailed their careers. Countless reasons can make you be out of the league in a couple of years, even if you were an All-Star (i.e Gilbert Arenas, Brandon Roy).
Then again, there have been plenty of players that have known how to make an impact throughout a long period of time in the best basketball on earth. Today, we’ll honor them by talking about the top 20 players with the most minutes played in NBA history:
20. Joe Johnson – 44,234 Minutes
Young fans may not be aware of the fact that Joe Johnson was a walking bucket for over a decade. Iso Joe was a major problem and his flawless offense granted him a spot on an NBA roster for 17 years. Honestly, he could still ball at an NBA level.
Joe played for the Celtics, Suns, Hawks, Nets, Heat, Jazz, and Rockets, posting career averages of 16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game on 44/37/80 shooting splits. He also made it to 7 All-Star Games, the All-Rookie team, and one All-NBA team.
19. Moses Malones – 45,071 Minutes
Moses Malone has a strong shot at being the most underrated superstar of all time. The guy was even traded after coming off an MVP season and he responded by leading his team to an NBA Championship and winning another award.
Malone was a beast on both ends of the glass, especially as a defender. His strong interior presence helped him average 20.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game over his 20-year career as a pro. He won 3 MVPs, 1 Championship, 6 Rebounds title, and 1 Finals MVP.
18. Robert Parish – 45,704 Minutes
The Boston Celtics wouldn’t have been as good as they were for that much time if Robert Parish wasn’t anchoring their defense in the paint. He doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves for their dynasty but he was one of the best centers in the world during his prime.
Parish played from 1976 to 1997. He balled for the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, and Chicago Bulls. He also won 4 NBA Championships, made it to 9 All-Star Games, and 2 All-NBA teams. We should talk about him more often.
17. Paul Pierce – 45,880 Minutes
Paul Pierce has always been a polarizing figure, and now that he’s firing hot takes left and right on ESPN, that trend isn’t likely to change any time soon. But make no mistake, Paul Pierce is one of the best scorers to ever set foot on an NBA hardwood.
Pierce was tough as nails. He wasn’t as athletic as most forwards but made up for it with physical and mental toughness. He always came huge in the clutch on both ends of the floor, and his shot was automatic from all three levels. That’s why he was able to stay in the league and excel for 18 years.
16. Ray Allen – 46,344 Minutes
Ray Allen is now remembered as one of the greatest three-point shooters of all time and for very good reasons, as he became deadly in that regard like few other players had done it before him. Even so, long before becoming a catch-and-shoot kind of guy, Allen was an unstoppable athlete and fearless scorer.
Allen embraced a lesser role towards the sunset of his career to win a Championship and it paid off. He won a couple of rings (one with the Celtics, one with the Heat), made it to 10 All-Star Games, 2 All-NBA teams, and, eventually; the Hall of Fame.
15. Vince Carter – 46,367 Minutes
The man, the legend, the one and only Vince Carter. Honest to God, if he hadn’t decided to retire, there would be multiple teams around the league that would be glad to offer him a roster spot. Especially if that means finally getting him the ring he could never win.
Carter holds the record for most seasons played in the league with 22. He’s also the only player to make an NBA appearance in four different decades (the ’90s, ’00s, ’10s, ’20s). He never ring-chased and was one of the most entertaining players to ever live.
14. John Havlicek – 46,471 Minutes
The Boston Celtics would have never become the winningest team in NBA history if it wasn’t for John Havlicek. Hondo was a legend and a God among men, and his contributions on both ends of the court were pivotal for them to become the strongest dynasty in the league.
Havlicek was as good as a defender as he was as a scorer. He helped the Celtics win 8 NBA Championships, made 11 All-NBA Teams, 8 All-Defensive Teams, won 1 Finals MVP, and was a 13-time All-Star. He spent his 15-year career with the Celtics and averaged 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game.