Longevity in any sport is an accomplishment that must be admired and respected, regardless of the level of competition. The dedication needed to show up each day and perform despite the bumps and bruises is something only a rare breed of professional athletes possess.
In today’s NBA, it’s not uncommon for superstars to leave a struggling team and join one that has a better chance at winning a champion. (I’m talking about you, LeBron James and Kevin Durant.) However, this wasn’t always the case.
There are a few NBA elites who stayed with the same team throughout the duration of their careers, even when things looked grim. Below are some of the greatest.
Argentine shooting guard Manu Ginobili spent his entire 16-year career as a San Antonio Spur. Selected with the No. 57 overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, Ginobili became one of the greatest “sleeper” picks in NBA history.
Before calling it quits in 2018, Ginobili was selected twice for the All-NBA Third Team, was named the NBA Sixth Man of the Year during the 2007-08 season, and helped the Spurs capture four NBA championships.
While Reggie Miller was known for his sideline trash-talking sessions with Knicks super fan Spike Lee, those who played against the UCLA shooting guard feared his ability to drain a three-point shot in the blink of an eye.
Before he hung up his basketball shoes in 2005, Miller held the record for most three-pointers made. It wasn’t until 2011, that Ray Allen eclipse him in the record books. Despite his amazing highlights and epic moments, he never won an NBA title.
Hailing from Spokane, Washington, 6-foot-1 John Stockton is hands down the greatest point guard to ever play the game. When his career was all said and done, he had amassed 19,711 points, 3,265 steals, and 15,806 assists — the most dimes in NBA history.
Despite also never winning an NBA title (thanks to Michael Jordan), Stockton was selected to 10 NBA All-Star games and the Jazz made the playoffs in each of his 19 seasons.
Lasting just four more seasons than teammate Manu Ginobili, Spurs center Tim Duncan captured five NBA championships and won two NBA MVP awards during his 20 seasons wearing the black and silver.
Selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, Duncan and fellow big man David Robinson were nicknamed the “Twin Towers.” The even-keeled superstar had one of the prettiest bank shots that was virtually unstoppable. He’s one of the last great big men the NBA has ever seen.
The world came to a screeching halt when it learned Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, had died in a helicopter accident on January 26, 2020. Nicknamed the “Black Mamba” and compared to Michael Jordan throughout his career, Bryant had one of the most epic careers in NBA history.
Selected No. 13 overall in the 1996 NBA Draft out of Lower Merion High School, Bryant roared onto the scene. During his 20 years as a Los Angeles Laker, Kobe scored 33,643 points, won five NBA championships, and made 18 NBA All-Star appearances. A truly one-of-a-kind talent.
The seven-foot German power forward/center Dirk Nowitzki spent his entire 21-year career with the Dallas Mavericks. While he was selected 9th overall by Milwaukee in the 1998 NBA Draft, the Bucks traded him — a decision that still has the club kicking themselves all these years later.
With the ability to score both inside and outside the paint, Nowitzki toyed with his opponents each and every night. While he did get slower with age (21 years in the NBA will do that to a man), he still found ways to contribute.
He was able to win one NBA championship and was selected to 13 NBA All-Star Games.