Special Report

Athletes Who Had the Most Memorable Final Seasons

Source: Sport Magazine Archives / Wikimedia Commons

10. Dave DeBusschere
> League: NBA
> Position, team: Power forward, New York Knicks
> Final season: 1973-1974, age 33
> Key stats and accomplishments: 18.1 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game

Dave DeBusschere capped off his Hall of Fame career with one of his best statistical seasons. The two-time champion with the Knicks had his second best scoring year with 18.1 points per game while shooting a career-high 46.1% from the field. He was also named to his eighth All-Star team and sixth All-Defensive team.

Source: Hockey Hall of Fame / Wikimedia Commons

9. Charlie Gardiner
> League: NHL
> Position, team: Goaltender, Chicago Black Hawks
> Final season: 1933-1934, age 29
> Key stats and accomplishments: All-Star, Vezina Trophy, Stanley Cup, 1.63 goals against average

Goalie Charlie Gardiner was the force behind the Chicago Black Hawks’ first-ever Stanley Cup. He allowed a league-low 83 goals in the 1933-1934 season, posting 10 shutouts. Gardiner continued his stellar play in the Stanley Cup Finals, allowing just seven goals in four games to propel Chicago to the title. For his efforts, Gardiner was named an All-Star and won the Vezina Trophy. Tragically, he died just two months after winning the Cup from a brain hemorrhage.

8. Bill Russell
> League: NBA
> Position, team: Center, Boston Celtics
> Final season: 1968-1969, age 34
> Key stats and accomplishments: 9.9 points per game, 19.3 rebounds per game, NBA Championship

Bill Russell’s final season may not be his most statistically impressive, scoring 9.9 points per game. But considering he was also coaching the Boston Celtics in addition to playing for them, the final season becomes much more notable. Russell took over as coach after Red Auerbach retired in 1966, then led Boston to two straight championships in 1968 and 1969, his final season. His 19.3 rebounds per game were the third highest in the NBA that season.

Source: Getty Images

7. Ted Williams
> League: MLB
> Position, team: Outfield, Boston Red Sox
> Final season: 1960, age 41
> Key stats and accomplishments: .316 batting average, 29 home runs

Even at 41, Ted Williams was still one of the best hitters in baseball. Though he typically hit much better, his .316 average in 1960 was still one of the best in baseball that year. He also hit 29 home runs in 113 games and was named an All-Star for the 17th time in his career.

Source: Malcolm W. Emmons / The Sporting News Archives / Wikimedia Commons

6. Jim Brown
> League: NFL
> Position, team: Running back, Cleveland Browns
> Final season: 1965, age 29
> Key stats and accomplishments: 1,544 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns, All-pro

In his last season, Jim Brown was by far the best running back in the NFL. He led the NFL in rush yards with 1,544 and total touchdowns with 21. This was one of Brown’s best statistical seasons, and he likely could have kept playing at a high level. However, Brown butted heads with Browns owner Art Modell when he missed training camp to shoot the movie “The Dirty Dozen,” and decided he would rather stick with the film than be fined for missing camp, so he retired.

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