It wasn't too long ago when NBA players seemed to be playing well into their 30's some into their early 40's. Now with kids getting into the league younger and younger they're becoming the seasoned vets in their 20's. The worst thing, in my opinion, the NBA did was let players hop straight from high school into the association. Not only are they not really NBA ready they're 18/19 years old meaning the clock starts on their careers and they'll be out before they even notice. Dwayne Wade is 31/32 years old and he just might've signed his second to last deal in the NBA. Sure Wade played basketball with reckless abandon and that may have taken some years off his career, but I still think if more players waited until their body, and more importantly minds were NBA ready they'd last a lot longer.
Kobe Bryant has been in the association for 19 years. That's something to marvel at and he just might be the last player to last so long. Let's not forget that Kobe has been to Europe on numerous occasions to get special treatments on both his knees just so he can get another chance at getting that elusive 6th championship. Michael Jordan who Kobe is usually compared to also played 19 years, but he spent 3 years out of the sport between his 1 year of minor league baseball with the White Sox and the 2 years before he decided to join the Wizards, so in total Jordan was around the sport for 20+ years. Today's player plays in a softer NBA and yet they don't last as long as the old school guys who played in the rough and tumble times.