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NBA

Shaun Livingston’s Inspirational NBA Career Ends Today

He went from projected superstar to injury tragedy to the most blessed player in NBA history.

Image Credit: Getty Images

The fairytale comeback of NBA guard Shaun Livingston had to end eventually and it did back in July when the Golden State Warriors waved the vetereran guard after 15 years.

By then, he was on borrowed time anyway and already blessed with the favor of the basketball Gods for over a decade. The announcement signaled another key departure from the Superteam Warriors that have dominated the NBA for the past half-decade.

Today, Livingston officially retired from the game with this IG announcement: 

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After 15 years in the NBA, I’m excited, sad, fortunate and grateful all in one breath. Hard to put into a caption all of the emotions it takes to try and accomplish your dreams. I wasn’t supposed to be here. Anybody that has beat the odds understands the mental and emotional strain it takes to inspire yourself on an uphill war, let alone inspire others. “The injury” gave me a chance to find and prove to myself (and the world) that I wouldn’t be defined by my circumstances. With my time in the League what I will be most proud of is the fact that my character, values and faith were tested, and I persevered. To my pops that told me to “go get the big ball” I THANK YOU. To my Grandpa that always showed me there was more to life than basketball I THANK YOU. To my Uncles that helped raise me like I was one of their own, THANK YOU. To my wife and kids…the future IS BRIGHTER than our past, and I couldn’t see myself taking on this chapter without you. To all of my teammates, coaches, TRAINERS, staff, my journey is a collection of experiences, and those of you that helped me along the way, THANK YOU! To all the fans and anybody else that inspired me, supported me, cheered for me, or even said good words about me, THANK YOU. “The greatest gift we can give is service to others” #Raiseaglass 🍷

A post shared by Shaun Livingston (@sdot1414) on

Magic Potential

Livingston was a 19-year-old 4th overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft out of Peoria Central HS in Peoria, Illinois and originally signed with Duke. Once he laced ‘em up for the Clips, most thought that he had Magic Johnson potential and would develop into a superstar very quickly. 

We all know about Penny Anfernee Hardaway. Like Livingston, Penny was an ultra-talented  6 foot 7 lead guard equipped with every skill needed to become an all-time great. Unfortunately, after a left hamstring injury basically ruined his career because of how it affected his left knee, he was never the same.

Livingston’s versatility rivaled anyone in the league. A point guard extraordinaire with a triple-double type flair, Livingston was part of a Clippers team in ’05-’06 that won 47 games before eventually losing to the Suns in a boss 7-game Western Conference Semis. 

Tragedy Strikes

Then on February 26, 2007, he came down after a missed layup off the break and landed in the most gruesome of ways. His knee was totally obliterated. He dislocated his kneecap and his tibia-femoral joint, tore the ACL, PCL, retinaculum and lateral meniscus while also badly sprained his MCL.

 

It was Livingston’s second serious knee injury after separating his right kneecap as a rookie. If Jasen Powell didn’t pop Livingston’s knee back in place after he suffered the injury on the floor, there was a chance his leg would have been amputated because blood circulation would have been affected with his knee and leg basically going in different directions.  

The Killer Comeback

Many people thought that Livingston’s career was over. His injury was one of the most gruesome hoops catastrophes ever witnessed. 

Livingston missed the entire next season and played in a total of 96 games over the next 2 years for 4 teams (also for Tulsa of the NBDL) before he caught on with Charlotte and played a career-high 73 games in ’10-’11. Then after another stretch of bouncing around, he stopped in Brooklyn, where he began to recapture some of the skills he displayed prior to his injury. 

Suddenly, everything changed and his journeyman NBA career — defined by tragedy — became one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. 

He joined the Golden State Warriors in the 2014-15 season as a backup point guard and veteran leader to a young, blossoming championship-caliber squad. The 15-year veteran stayed for five seasons and was a key contributor to a Warriors Dynasty that won three championships and went to five straight NBA Finals during his tenure. 

 

Finding Paradise: Golden State Warriors Dynasty

Livingston’s Warriors experience has been everything any NBA player could ever ask for. He’s been to the mountaintop several times and he’s rebounded from an injury that would have crushed most ballers. 

Similar to how Grant Hill didn’t let the physical limitations of his injuries dampen his love for the game and his understanding of teamwork, Livingston made the best of his situation and it resulted in a lucrative career and championship glory. Instead of becoming the ultimate point guard, he became the consummate teammate and reaped the benefits of his character. 

“Really, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Livingston told the Shadow League in 2014. 

“That’s the simple thing. One of those simple phrases but uh…I started out on top coming in…high in the draft…a lot of this…a lot of that with all the expectations. See, one play can take you right back down. Whatever you are doing, stay on your grind, and maintain focus and you can do it, but it starts with you. Nobody else. Ain’t nobody got to do the work but me to get back on the court playing. That’s the advice everybody should take.”

Livingston’s farewell to the NBA, along with KD’s departure to Brooklyn is another reminder that the Golden State Warriors Super Team that we have all become emotionally invested in is now officially over. Livingston couldn’t have a better last stop on his wild NBA journey. 

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