What Is the Average Retirement Age of Nba Players?

What Is the Average Retirement Age of Nba Players?

A player must be in perfect physical condition to participate in any sport. Therefore, players must retire after reaching a certain age. Although the retirement age of an American worker is 65 years, the average retirement age of many sports players is mid 30’s. 

Therefore, if you are deciding to get into basketball, you need to know the NBA retirement age and the conditions which bring about retirement. We have summed up these reasons for you. So, let me walk you through it all. 

Factors Leading To NBA Players’ Retirement

When it comes to determining the retirement age of a certain basketball player, there are several factors that come into play. There is no perfect answer to how long is the average NBA career. Any one of these following factors can also lead to a player’s early retirement. Below you will find more information about these. 

Factors Leading To NBA Players’ Retirement

1. Career-Ending Injury

Injuries are a part of any sport. This is why physical exercise is mandatory for every player. They are also provided with personal trainers to make sure the players stay fit. However, in certain cases, a player might get a very severe injury that prevents them from playing the game further. In this case, the players are required to retire even though they have reached retirement age or not. 

Basketball requires utmost physical exertion. Throughout the career, a player’s body goes through so much wear and tear. Therefore, mostly after the mid-’30s, their bodies cannot keep up with the physical exertion the game requires regardless of their physical fitness exercises. Consequently, many players seek retirement at the age of 34. 

2. Declining Career

From time to time, new players keep coming into the game and at times new talent is better than the old players. Therefore, it is a good reason for previous players to seek retirement. This not only gives the new players a chance to play and get in the top ranking, but it also provides old players a safe retirement door. 

3. Inability To Perform As Required

Basketball is a very dynamic game. The players are required to adapt to new rules and regulations as soon as they are introduced. Moreover, if a player does not learn new tricks and sticks to their old methods, chances are that they will make their team lose. As a result, many players are required to retire at a quite young age if they do not bring anything new to the court. 

It does not necessarily apply to the old players, even if a new player does not deliver the required talent, chances are they will be removed from the team and required to retire at the very beginning of their basketball career. Therefore, it is not just injury that causes a player to retire early. 

4. Losing Passion For The Game

Besides talent, physical sports require players to be passionate about the game too. Only if a player is passionate enough, then they will put their utmost effort into the game. Although, after a few years of constant playing, it is natural to lose your passion. Players who lose their enthusiasm for the game will stop putting in the required effort, thus becoming a nuisance to the team. For such players, it is better to retire and switch to some other game if they are still physically fit. 

5. Made Enough Money

Basketball players are paid quite well. Apart from getting a regular salary, they get bonuses in form of cash prizes worth millions of dollars. Therefore, even if a player plays for just a few years, they can make enough money to invest in a new business and seek retirement. Many players do take this route and retire at the peak of their career so they can always be remembered as the best players. 

How Are NBA Players Paid After Retirement?

Once an NBA player retires, they are still paid by the NBA. There are various forms of income. Let us see what the NBA offers its players after retirement. 

How Are NBA Players Paid After Retirement?

1. New Job

You might have seen that many former players either become coaches or commentators after retirement. This is the new job offered to them by the NBA. The packages are lucrative and they remain associated with the game too in one way or another. 

2. 401 (K)

The 401 (K) plan is a means for the NBA to look after its players after retirement. This plan offers several tax advantages in general. As a result, the players get a good salary and investment after retirement. 

3. Pension 

The NBA also offers pensions to its players. As the age of retired players increases, they are paid more pension money. Even if a player retires after 3 years of serving on the basketball team, they will still get their pension money. 

Retirement Ages of Top NBA Players

As explained previously, there is no specific retirement age for NBA players. The retirement ages of some players are mentioned below for better insight.

  • Kobe Bryant retired at 36 years of age.
  • Michael Jordan retired at 40.
  • Charles Barkley retired at 37.
  • Karl Malone took retirement at 41 years of age.
  • Tim Duncan retired at 40.
  • Shaq O’Neal retired at 39. 

Final Words

When players play a sport at the national and international level, their performance does not remain constant throughout their careers. At some point, they might be performing very well and will be regarded as a hero by sports fans. To be remembered as a legend of a certain sport, it is good to retire at the peak of your career. Since, as age progresses, a player’s performance also starts declining.

The NBA offers several retirement benefits to its players, therefore it is better to retire at a good point in your career instead of waiting for it to decline and then be forced to resign. 


Yes, many players continue to play even after the age of 34. If a player is physically fit, passionate about the game, and is improving his/her playing style for the good, then there is no reason for them to retire at an early age. 

As said previously, several factors come into play when a player retires. They don’t need to retire after 34 years of age, they can retire early too. The youngest basketball player to retire was Justine Henin who retired at the age of 26. The average NBA career length varies from player to player. 

Once a player retires from basketball, they can move into any game they like. No law prevents them from switching careers after retirement. 

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