HOUSTON — Age is nothing but a number.
But the number of players his age then is nothing like it is now.
The year was 1982. Ronald Reagan was president. A Whataburger hamburger costs only $1.40.
The oldest man playing in the NBA? Elvin Hayes of the Houston Rockets was 36 and the league's only player 35 or older.
Yes, only one. Compare that number to today's NBA. By our count, there are 25 guys (2022-23 season) 35 or older, including Chris Paul (37), LeBron James (38) and Udonis Haslem, the oldest at 42. It's obviously now a different game; players have better ways and means of maintaining their bodies.
In his 16 seasons, Elvin played exactly 50,000 minutes, a then-record. His durability was recognized by teammate Calvin Murphy.
"He missed only nine games (during his career)," Murphy said the night the Rockets retired Elvin's uniform number 44.
How was he able to play for so long?
“I remember when I first started playing ball, and I said, you know, God, I don't want to ever get injured and playing professional basketball with some really tough guys. I never received an injury,” he told Jason Bristol back on Nov. 18, 2022.
Elvin Hayes, at one time, was the only player 35 or older in the NBA. A strange but true Houston sports story.