As of writing, the record-holder for the oldest player to have ever played in the league is Nat Hickey of the Providence Steamrollers. The 5-foot-11 guard made his debut at 45 years of age during the 1947-48 season. Interestingly, he was the coach of the Steamrollers at that time, and apparently, he had a strong urge to play for his own team. And so he did by activating himself for two games. Anyway, that happened way before the NBA was established (he played in the BAA league), and while he is technically the oldest player to have made his debut, we’re sticking with NBA guys for our list today.
The players we listed below were far from Hickey’s 45-year-young debut, but they were still pretty old considering the average age in the NBA’s modern era. So without further adieu, below are the Top 5 oldest players to have made their NBA debut.
5. Antoine Rigaudeau, Dallas Mavericks (31 Years, 33 days)
Date of debut: January 19, 2003
Stat Line: zero points, one rebound, one steal, and two turnovers in six minutes of action
Rigadeau, a French basketball legend who is widely considered as one of the best ever players to have hailed from France, ended up playing for just 11 games for the Mavs before he was traded (and eventually waived) months after his debut in a multi-player deal with the Golden State Warriors.
4. Pero Antic, Atlanta Hawks (31 Years, 93 Days)
Date of debut: October 30, 2013
Stat Line: zero points and two rebounds in eight minutes of action
Throughout his rookie campaign, Antic played much better than he did in his NBA debut. So much so, that he was actually invited to participate in that season’s Rising Stars Challenge. Unfortunately, an ankle injury prevented him from taking part in the contest.
Antic played two full seasons with the Hawks, tallying a grand total of 113 games played throughout his short-lived NBA career.
3. Andre Ingram, Los Angeles Lakers (32 Years, 142 Days)
Date of debut: April 10, 2018
Stat Line: 19 points (6-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 from 3-point territory), three rebounds, one assist, one steal, three blocks, and one turnover in 29 minutes of action
Talk about making a splash in your NBA debut.
Ingram signed a 10-day deal with the Lakers towards the tail end of a rather miserable 2017-18 campaign for the Purple & Gold. He made a tremendous impact in his first-ever NBA game, and his Cinderella story instantly made headlines.
The following season, Ingram got the call again for LA for another 10-day deal. He was unable to replicate his heroics from the previous year, however.
All in all, Ingram played a total of six games with the Lakers (and in the NBA).
2. Marcelo Huertas, Los Angeles Lakers (32 Years, 156 Days)
Date of debut: October 28, 2015
Stat Line: two points, two rebounds, two assists, and a turnover in 13 minutes of action
The Lakers seem to have a knack for giving old-timers a shot. Years prior to Ingram’s debut, they also featured Marcelo Huertas, who was a few weeks older than Ingram when he played his first NBA game.
Huertas actually had a pretty commendable debut season with the Lakers, all things considered. He averaged 4.5 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists, providing some quality minutes (16.4 per game) off LA’s bench.
The Lakers signed him to another short-term deal the following summer but was eventually traded to the Houston Rockets in the middle of the season. The Rockets waived him soon after, which marked the end of his NBA career.
1. Pablo Prigioni, New York Knicks (35 years, 169 days)
Date of debut: November 2, 2012
Stat Line: zero points, one rebound, three assists, and three turnovers in 16 minutes of action
Prigioni may not have been the most senior player to have ever played in the NBA, but he is most certainly the oldest guy to have ever made his debut.
Prigioni already had a decorated career overseas prior to joining the NBA. He was actually able to remain relevant in the league years after his debut with the Knicks, playing in four full seasons in the league.
The 6-foot-3 point guard played two and a half seasons for the Knicks, before being move to the Houston Rockets in the middle of the 2014-15 campaign. The following summer, the Rockets traded Prigioni to the Denver Nuggets, who decided to waive his services.
That did not spell the end for Prigioni, though, with the Los Angeles Clippers signing him as a free agent not long after. He played 59 games for LA that season, providing some backup minutes at the one spot.
That ended up being Prigioni’s last season in the NBA. He amassed a grand total of 270 games played during his tenure, with averages of 3.5 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.0 steals per game.