As background for an upcoming post about Kobe Bryant, I took a look at which players have played the most NBA minutes.
Here's the thing, though: I didn't just want to know about regular season (the list is readily available) or playoffs (ditto). I wanted the two combined. Seems pretty simple, right? This is the list that matters, if you're talking about mileage. But it's tough to come by. Eventually Basketball-Reference was nice enough to create the list for me, and it is both fascinating and below.
One surprise is how many of these players are either playing now, or retired in recent memory. Trainers would credit improved injury prevention and care. Economists would tell you that's because with salaries of the modern era, the best players have more reasons not to retire. Another little bump: The playoffs are longer than they used to be.
Pop quiz: Who played more real NBA minutes, Horace Grant or Larry Bird? How about Allen Iverson or Magic Johnson? Derek Harper or Lenny Wilkens?
Of course, the most amazing surprise of all comes from Bryant himself. He is already 16th on the all-time list -- there have been about 3,600 NBA players -- sandwiched right in there between Michael Jordan and Bill Russell, and he has not even turned 33 yet.