The number 40 comes up often in connection with Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant. After all, he is the master of the 40-point game: Six of the 24 40-point performances in the NBA this season have come from Durant, according to Basketball Reference. No other player has more than two such games. When you see a "40" in the "points" column, there is a 25 percent chance it is Durant.
But age 40? That's not exactly the 25-year-old Durant's area of expertise. He won't be 40 years old until training camp for the 2028-29 NBA season.
Well start getting in line for 2029 NBA tickets, basketball fans: Durant plans on playing that long, according to USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt:
Truly, that would be an amazing accomplishment. Only seven men have played an NBA season in their forties in the past decade:
- Dikembe Mutombo (three seasons)
- Kevin Willis (three seasons)
- Charles Oakley
- Cliff Robinson
- Karl Malone
- Kurt Thomas
- Grant Hill
It should be noted that six of those seven players were traditional big men, with Hill the only perimeter player on the list. Throughout history, it has been easier for bigs to play later in their careers, as they rely less on speed (which goes away with age) than size (which doesn't).
But if anyone can do it, it's Durant. He'll never have the bulk to bang with centers in his old age, but he'll always have the height and wingspan to shoot over just about anybody.
If Durant wants advice on the kind of attitude needed to play in his fifth decade, he should listen to Grant Hill, who waxed philosophically on very subject to ESPN's Justin Verrier:
I think that mindset still exists: 'This guy is 40 years old. He shouldn't be out there.' Maybe part of that plays a role in motivation. But it really boils down to, 'If you don't love it, you're not gonna do what you need to do to make sure you're ready to play.'
If Durant still has that kind of drive and love for the game 15 years from now, teams will still be lining up to sign him.