On Monday, veteran forward Vince Carter announced that he is coming back for his record 22nd NBA season and will rejoin the Atlanta Hawks. That gives Carter the longest career in NBA history as he is set to pass Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Robert Parrish, and Kevin Willis, who all played 21 seasons.
With Carter set to partake in his record-setting 22nd season, it's worth examining his career and athletes outside of the NBA that spent the most seasons suiting up in their respective sports.
NBA: Vince Carter
- Years Active: 1998-present
- Teams Played For: Toronto Raptors (1998-2004), New Jersey Nets (2004-2009), Orlando Magic (2009-2010), Phoenix Suns (2010-2011), Dallas Mavericks (2011-2014), Memphis Grizzlies (2014-2017), Sacramento Kings (2017-2018), Atlanta Hawks (2018-present)
Carter has turned in a timeless career and the 2019-20 season will be his swan song. The 42-year old forward entered the league back in 1998 as one of the most athletic and gifted wings that the game has ever seen. The Florida native was traded on draft night with North Carolina teammate Antawn Jamison after originally being selected by the Golden State Warriors and really found a home with the Toronto Raptors to start off his career.
During his time in Toronto, Carter and Tracy McGrady made up one of the more explosive backcourts of their era before McGrady left to sign with the Orlando Magic in 2000. Carter also had a tremendous amount of success with the New Jersey Nets as he reached the postseason in his first three seasons with the franchise. Postseason success has always been something that has alluded Carter as he's yet to win a ring at this stage of his career.
MLB: Nolan Ryan
- Years Active: 1966-1993
- Teams Played For: New York Mets (1966, 1968-1971), California Angels (1972-1979), Houston Astros (1980-1988), Texas Rangers (1989-1993)
It's rare that you see an athlete play in four different decades, but Ryan did just that during his 27-year career in the MLB. Ryan was one of the most dominant starting pitchers that the MLB has ever seen. He went to eight All-Star Games and won a World Series with the New York Mets in 1969. This is a guy that pitched seven no-hitters and had success everywhere he went throughout his career. To this day, Ryan holds 51 MLB records from everything to career strikeouts (5,714) to double-digit strikeouts games (215) to 200-strikeouts seasons (15).
MLB: Cap Anson
- Years Active: 1871-1897
- Teams Played For: Rockford Forest Citys (1871), Philadelphia Athletics (1872-1875), Chicago White Stockings/Colts (1876-1897)
Like Ryan, Anson also turned in 27 MLB seasons before hanging up his spikes. Anson was one of the most dangerous hitters of his era as he hit .334 with 97 home runs and 2,075 RBIs in those 27 seasons, which mostly came as a member of the Chicago White Stockings. The star first baseman won the National League batting title during the 1881 and 1888 seasons while also leading the league in RBI in eight different seasons.
NHL: Gordie Howe
- Years Active: 1946-1980
- Teams Played For: Detroit Red Wings (1946-1971), Houston Aeros (1973-1977), New England/Hartford Whalers (1977-1980)
There was a reason that Howe was nicknamed "Mr. Hockey." Howe suited up for 32 seasons in the NHL and WHL and was one of the true pioneers of the sport. The talented right wing played the first 25 seasons of his career as a member of the Detroit Red Wings and led the franchise to four Stanley Cups during that stretch. Howe won the Hart Trophy, which is awarded to the MVP of the league, on four different occasions,
NFL: George Blanda
- Years Active: 1949-1975
- Teams Played For: Chicago Bears (1949, 1950-1958), Baltimore Colts (1950), Houston Oilers (1960-1966), Oakland Raiders (1967-1975)
Blanda played 26 seasons in the NFL and came from an era where players lined up at multiple positions. The Pennsylvania native played quarterback and placekicker during his time in the league and holds several records. Much like Ryan in the MLB, Blanda played in four different decides as he suited up in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Blanda once threw seven touchdown passes in a single game and it's a mark that still hasn't been broken despite Peyton Manning (2013), Nick Foles (2013) and Drew Brees (2015) tying it in recent years. He also made 52.4 percent of his field goal attempts and 98.3 percent of his extra point attempts during his 26-year career.