Shaun Livingston has had one hell of a career. From touted prospect to what-if story to elite role player and world champion, he’s been all over the spectrum as an NBA player. Talking with reporters this week, he mentioned he doesn’t have much time left on the court. If this is indeed his last season, he’ll be remembered as a great Warrior and stabilizing locker room presence.
Once a young star-in-the-making, Livingston will probably be remembered most for his career-threatening injury, one of the worst in basketball history. It was so severe that doctors thought about amputating his leg. But they didn’t, and Livingston slowly recovered. It took him seven years of nonstop rehabilitation and perseverance, but he finally became a strong role player. Despite diminished athleticism and a weak outside shot, he’s smart enough to find holes in the defense and still boasts one of the most terrifying midrange turnaround jumpers in the league.
In 2014, he signed with the Warriors, the same year the Warriors hired Steve Kerr as coach. They won the championship, and soon became a dynasty the league had never seen before. Throughout it all, he commanded the bench lineups with poise and control, and never had any problems with his teammates or coaches. He knew his role and played it well.
Now, five years after he signed here, Livingston’s role has diminished. He’s only thirty-three, but it seems his injury is finally catching up with him again: his previously-injured knee has been affecting his availability, acting up with soreness, stiffness, and aches. He’s under contract for next season, but his deal is only partially guaranteed: there’s a good chance the Warriors cut him to retain cap flexibility.
Livingston doesn’t have more to prove. He’s a three-time champion who perfected the role of quintessential role player. Even that, considering his injury, is a testament to his drive and will to compete. Now, he’s ready to raise his two young daughters, and maybe find a front-office role with the Warriors, as he’s mentioned before.
I only hope that we remember Shaun not for his injury, but for his remarkable recovery: to wake up every day for seven years with the determination to continue his rehabilitation is a road few have traveled. Physically, it’s immeasurable pain. Mentally, it’s even more more frightening. Shaun Livingston is a lifetime Warrior, and deserves as much time with the Warriors as he wants. In a decade or so, I wouldn’t mind the Warriors retiring his jersey.