Why Even Great NBA Players Can’t Play Anymore (Even a Little) When They Get Older

Q: Any thoughts on the NBA creating the equivalent to a Senior Tour for older players? With well documented retirement planning issues, wouldn’t this be a no brainer? Players would have to be retired for at least two years. Could Michael dunk on Patrick Ewing at 50? How much would Shawn Kemp or Antione Walker take to play in this league? 100K a year?
—Sherif Elmazi, Hong Kong

SG: I stumbled upon the answer to this question during my All-Star Weekend podcast with Dirk Nowitzki. We’d been talking about how long Dirk could play, conceivably, and whether he could spend his late thirties and early forties spreading the floor as a late-career Sam Perkins–type weapon for a contender. And Dirk said that it wasn’t about the still-being-able-to-play part, but the doing-everything-it-takes-to-be-able-to-play part.

That’s the part we always forget, as well as the most illuminating part of Steve Nash’s The Finish Line series for Grantland. When they get older, WE don’t realize how much it takes for THEM to play. So even if the Senior Tour is a fantastic idea on paper, the amount of work it would take for ex-players with crazy NBA miles on them already to play basketball regularly, stay relatively healthy, avoid debilitating injuries … it’s just not realistic.

It seems obvious in hindsight, like a magic trick revealed, but I had not realized this either.

From Bill Simmons and Grantland: http://grantland.com/features/nba-mailbag-this-is-the-end/

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