Real minutes played

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.

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar66,297

  2. Karl Malone62,759

  3. Wilt Chamberlain55,418

  4. John Stockton54,162

  5. Elvin Hayes54,160

  6. John Havlicek53,331

  7. Reggie Miller52,927

  8. Gary Payton52,599

  9. Jason Kidd52,386

  10. Robert Parish51,881

  11. Shaquille O'Neal50,017

  12. Hakeem Olajuwon49,971

  13. Scottie Pippen49,174

  14. Moses Malone48,867

  15. Michael Jordan48,484

  16. Kobe Bryant48,310

  17. Bill Russell48,223

  18. Kevin Garnett47,998

  19. Oscar Robertson47,559

  20. Clifford Robinson46,447

  21. Buck Williams46,174

  22. Patrick Ewing45,801

  23. Charles Oakley45,388

  24. Ray Allen45,156

  25. Horace Grant44,793

  26. Tim Duncan44,685

  27. Charles Barkley44,179

  28. Hal Greer43,430

  29. Clyde Drexler43,109

  30. Dennis Johnson42,948

  31. Mark Jackson42,896

  32. Jerry West42,892

  33. Otis Thorpe42,074

  34. Michael Finley41,904

  35. Rasheed Wallace41,786

  36. Sam Perkins41,383

  37. Dirk Nowitzki41,363

  38. Larry Bird41,329

  39. Derek Harper40,880

  40. Walt Bellamy40,879

  41. Allen Iverson40,789

  42. Magic Johnson40,783

  43. Kevin Willis40,740

  44. Wes Unseld40,721

  45. A.C. Green40,671

  46. Jack Sikma40,501

  47. Alex English40,490

  48. Lenny Wilkens40,467

  49. Dominique Wilkins40,285

  50. Paul Pierce40,085