New Age: Dirk, D-Wade Now Old Guard

Dirk Nowitzki (left) and Dwyane Wade  (the elder statesmen in New Orleans.

Dirk and Dwyane Wade (12 and 10 All-Star appearances, respectively) are the elder statesmen in New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS – Feeling old? A few All-Stars are.

“I was looking at Dirk and Tony and me and now I’m like one of the older guys,” Clippers All-Star point Chris Paul said. “I was looking at Damian Lillard and wondering what he must be thinking.”

Paul is only 28 and still very much in the prime of his career, but his sort of sudden discovery underscores the tremendous youth movement happening in the NBA. Youthful stars like the 23-year-old Lillard, who has taken Portland and the league by storm in just his second season, seem to be everywhere and making the older guards like Paul, Tony Parker, 31, and others ponder where the time’s gone.

“Who’s the oldest player here?” asked Dwyane Wade, hardly old at 32, but whose troublesome knees have added some years as he makes his 10th appearance in Sunday night’s 63rd All-Star Game.

The oldest would be Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, who turned 35 last June. Kobe, who was voted in by the fans as a Western Conference starter, but won’t play because of a knee injury, turned 35 in August.

“We were just talking to [DeMar] DeRozan and Kyrie [Irving] and Paul George,” said Wade, one of only two Eastern Conference All-Stars in their 30s; Joe Johnson is also 32, about six months older than Wade. “When we came in it was Jason Kidd, Kevin Garnett, these players that we had so much respect for were at the All-Star Game, they were the older guys that had been around for 10 years, and now we are.”

Dirk, Kobe and Parker now have 34 All-Star appearances between them. The West’s starting five — Steph Curry, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin — have a combined 15. None are older than 25. So this could become a very familiar-looking All-Star starting group.

“It’s weird not see all these guys,” said Nowitzki, a 12-time All-Star, who made his debut in the 2002 game. “Tim Duncan, every year I’ve been an All-Star, Tim was here, KG was here, Kobe was here, Shaq was here every year. So I miss these guys a little bit and now I’m the oldest guy here which feels a little weird because in my head I don’t really feel 35, 36. But I’m definitely enjoying these young guys and I’m enjoying these last couple years competing against these young guys, and then I’ll slowly go away.”

The sudden youth can be startling. In the West, six of 12 All-Stars are 25 or younger and that number actually jumped to seven when second-year Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, 20, replaced Kobe. Including Davis, 10 players on the West roster are 28 or younger.

In the East, George, 23, Kyrie IrvingDeMar DeRozan  and John Wall are all 24 or younger. Nine players are 29 or younger with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Paul Millsap all being 29. Bosh turns 30 next month, while Joakim Noah turns 29 on Feb. 25.

“It’s crazy,” Wade said. “It goes so fast and at the same time to still be here is an unbelievable honor. It goes, man, you’ve got to enjoy it along the way. You see the young guys coming up and they are the future of the NBA and one day they’ll be doing the things that we’re doing, looking back like, ‘Man, how fast did it go?'”

10 Comments

  1. gambler says:

    im 22 and the weirdest feeling ever was watching iverson’s career fading. its so sad, it seems like one day i woke and up and poof he’s gone.

    tbh this league is becoming like the nhl in terms of squeaky clean players with anti-social, robotic personalities. the nba isnt the same without players who have personality, charisma, swagger and showmanship. the only person who still has that spark is kobe. get better soon DAWG.

  2. vinsanefan says:

    This article makes me feel old, and I’m 21!

  3. GOldenstatement says:

    i miss antoine walker so much, he was so talen… HAHA
    i’m joking.

  4. okc2014 says:

    I miss Larry Bird, the Chief, Ainge, Dennis and McHale……The old Boston Garden and the parquet floors. (not the Fleet Center). Those were the good ole days.

  5. Libertatus says:

    While it’s true that Nowitzki and Wade are older and soon will be on their way out that fact seems trivially true. Any longtime observer of sports has seen and can can recognize turnover. This is a normal and necessary process. Perhaps this article is directed toward the newer NBA fan who hasn’t yet experienced this. “Heads-up, the older heros of yesteryear aren’t hanging around forever. Enjoy and appreciate them while you can.”

  6. sirsparhawk says:

    It went fast for us fans too. I still remember paul when he first came in, Dirk in his prime seemed like just last year. Leflop too. Its a new age and time for new blood to stand up,

  7. Withersoul says:

    I feel you Dirk, I grew up watching you, AI, T-Mac, Timmy, Shaq and I don’t feel the same way to these new guys, I wonder how it past so fast too, I was thinking I’d be in NBA playing with you guys when I’m 18 but two years past that age and I am also in frustration! A generation of NBA is about to be gone, I want to be back in time!

  8. So sad no Kobe says:

    I’m 19 and idolized KOBE a lot as I grow up. practicing his fade away shots, dunks and his golden hands shooting skills. I even always record and watch Lakers games when Kobe is playing win or lose. I just love his competitive nature like Michael Jordan as my dad told me as well that watching Kobe is like watching MJ.. I voted for him for 2014 All Star so sad that this is the first time that I don’t see him playing in the All Star Game except 2010 All Star Game.. I hope Kobe Bryant would still play ’til he gets his third NBA Finals MVP.. I hope you get well sooner Lakers #24.