The departures of Finals MVP’s Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala from the Golden State Warriors during the summer of 2019 sent shockwaves throughout the franchise, diverting attention away from the exit of another dynasty hero, Shaun Livingston. The 33-year old backup point guard had been a staple of the Warriors “Strength In Numbers” attack, but his hefty salary and aging body forced the Dubs to let him go in search of a cheaper, younger option.
The 6-foot-7 Livingston went from a bright future star to a cautionary tale after a horrific knee injury nearly ended his career. After grueling rehab, he bounced around the league before finding a home in Golden State in the 2015 season, where he would help win three championships.
Whether the 14-year veteran retires or plays one more year is unknown, but we do know that he will be fondly remembered for helping the Dubs turn into one of the greatest winners in sports history.
Okay so, full disclosure: Shaun Livingston’s style of play has been the most appealing to me of all the brave men who hooped for this dynasty. His ability to generate constant “pick your poison” conundrums could eviscerate opposing bench units.
Livingston used his sharp wits and veteran swagger to methodically navigate through traffic. His use of purposeful passes forced defenses to stay on high alert for fear of Livingston’s otherworldly vision. He could anticipate action windows before they opened, whipping touch passes over and around defenders who dared to relax for a split second.
Shaun Livingston with a fantastic pass to Iguodala for the #AssistOfTheNight! http://t.co/dbe9mPDAiv— NBA (@NBA) June 12, 2015
This was especially useful as an anchor for the reserve teams, when he could make non-superstar teammates better by spoon-feeding them the ball in the spots they felt comfortable.
Of course, whenever they couldn’t get open, that actually freed Livingston up to do what he seemed to enjoy most: unleashing mid-range hellfire. Remember back in the day when post-moves were actually a thing and hoopers didn’t panic and throw up garbage whenever they had their backs to the basket? It’s a relatively lost art in today’s game, in part because the Splash Bros made the jumpshot so sexy, but also because it appears coaches aren’t teaching these kids the complete game.
Livingston was a throwback to the days when guys like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant could unleash 15-foot jumpers off of a bevy of shoulder shakes, spinning dribbles, and hip bumps.
That was just a nasty option to have at point guard when the greatest shooter alive rested on the bench. Livingston’s brutally crafty array of OG moves were like stiff head-snapping jabs that kept opponents off balance and demoralized.
That combination of ball-handling, passing, and post moves would be a devastating cocktail even without adding his fearless finishing ability. Remember when he baptized Richard Jefferson in the Finals?
Shaun Livingston did Richard Jefferson dirty. Best dunk I seen in the #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/GbuhbaXoVf— Anthony Aiken Jr. (@AnthonyAikenJr) June 14, 2016
Or when he evaporated the MVP James Harden?
Shaun Livingston cooked James Harden (via @nba) pic.twitter.com/diME6AYz4e— Fanatics View (@fanaticsview) May 21, 2018
Unfortunately, all that domination took a physical toll on “S. Dot”. Last year it was evident that Livingston’s body was suffering from the effects of five straight seasons ending in June. He spoke on this last season with The Athletic:
So now that it’s getting harder. Like this year, I’ve struggled with injuries more than any other year I’ve been on the Warriors. Dealing with my knee. Just showing up to the game and my knee is, like, softball(-sized) swollen.
It’s stiff. I can’t move. It’s sore. I come back, it’s aching. And this is all before the game even starts.
There were certainly times when Livingston seemed stuck in the mud, hobbling around a step slower, unable to consistently get to where he wanted to go. But when the Warriors were waylaid by injuries to Durant, Iguodala, Steph Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, and Klay Thompson during the 2019 postseason, Livingston emptied the tank for the Golden Empire.
Remember during Game 2 of the Finals in Toronto when the Dubs were desperately trying to steal a win in the waning seconds? Curry flung a desperation pass directly toward Kawhi Leonard’s mitts for what looked like a sure steal, but Livingston flew in like superman to save the day.
Everyone’s going to talk about the shot here but if not for Shaun Livingston running towards this bad pass by @StephenCurry30 and then looking off the defense the shot never happens! #littlethingsmatter pic.twitter.com/tliQFLOrWh— Coach McD (@coachmcdz) June 3, 2019
Not only did he save the turnover, but immediately finds Iguodala on the wing for dagger trey. That is basketball at the highest level!
Livingston is a basketball savant and was a respected leader during his time in the Town. As of today, we don’t know if he’ll seek to play somewhere else, or if he’ll hang up the shoes and call it a career. But, if he does retire, you can bet the Warriors be more than happy to bring him back into the fold to teach the game to future generations of Golden State Warriors.
"He's somebody I'm hoping can be involved with our organization for many years to come."— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) August 21, 2019
Whenever Shaun Livingston retires, Steve Kerr hopes to keep him around the Warriors. https://t.co/06Iy4kBOne pic.twitter.com/lU4YrlDJtS
Until that time, let’s just kick back and enjoy eleven straight minutes of S.Dot torturing jabronis with this pure turnaround jumper.
Should the Warriors retire Shaun Livingston’s jersey?
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