By Kevin Calder | @KCalder3
In February of 2007, Los Angeles Clippers' guard Shaun Livingston rose toward the rim for your average NBA layup. By the time he returned to the floor, he would be an instant YouTube sensation.
His left leg was snapped, a torn ACL, PCL and sprained MCL all accompanied a dislocated patella. Amputation was a real possibility at the time of injury. A promising young point guard on a good team was facing not only the end of a basketball career but also the devastating loss of a limb. Video clips were too gruesome for many to endure. A return to his old form seemed less than doubtful.
Fast forward eight years later. Oracle buzzes on a Saturday night in February as the Warriors continue the most dominant start the Association has ever seen. The Bay Area is alive with star power from Jay-Z and Beyonce, to Kate Hudson, Dave Chapelle, and Kendrick Lamar all filling seats in the NBA’s loudest arena.
A playoff like vibe surrounds the court as three All-Stars take turns electrifying the crowd. The Warriors lead, once a comfortable 16 points, is dwindling as the fourth quarter begins. Now the narrow lead stands at six as Shaun Livingston enters the game and goes to work. Livingston scores six points in a minute and a half to push the Warriors lead back to 11. Utilizing his power forward length, he backs down smaller defenders and rises with a turnaround fade that he has perfected to help stabilize the Warriors bench unit. He even chips in a steal on a Westbrook pass during the productive stretch.
While the Splash Brothers and Draymond Green certainly deserve the lion's share of the credit for the success of the Dubs, Livingston provides them versatility and backup point guard depth that the team has desperately needed for years.
Gone are the days of heavy minutes for Steve Blake and an assortment of other backup guards where the Warriors were hanging by a thread counting down the seconds anxiously until their superstar guard was ready to check back in. Livingston’s height allows him at times to smoothly switch defensive assignments and play in the key, while also serving as an offensive spark plug for the second unit at times.
Livingston seems to shine brightly on the game’s biggest stages as well. In last year’s Western Conference Finals Game 1, Livingston poured in 18 points in 29 minutes. The Warriors, trailing by 16 points, got 10 points out of their backup in less than three minutes and cut the lead to four. The game ended up being a four point victory for Golden State.
Granted the Warriors were the superior squad to the Rockets for the series but Livingston’s performance was huge in giving them the series lead. The game could’ve easily gone in Houston’s favor and stretched the series out to six games. The Warriors were in need of a short series as Curry and Thompson were both banged up heading into the Finals. The extra rest proved critical.
Livingston has continued to perform in big games this season including 10 points in a win over OKC, 13 points in 15 minutes versus San Antonino and 16 points on 8-9 shooting against Cleveland on Christmas Day. It's safe to say Livingston seems to bring his best game for the marquee match-ups.
In many ways Livingston is the perfect representation of the Warriors in recent years. For the longest time, a dark cloud hung over the Golden State's franchise. But much like the Livingston injury, glances of light shown on the recovery as the We Believe moments and Mark Jackson transition paved the way to eventual gold. Livingston began to re-discover his career and showed glances of the athleticism that awed Clippers' faithful early in his career. Today, Livingston stands tall as an NBA champion and an integral bench asset on (perhaps) the best team in basketball history. And for that, Dubs fans are grateful.