Tuesday night, Shaun Livingston passed through the gates of immortality after a long journey of devastations and breakthroughs.
Or perhaps, there is no such thing as a single player in a team sport. Perhaps one player could be more deserving to win a championship than any one of his comrades. And perhaps, Shaun Livingston is just that player.
If you just sit back and think on it, it’s truly incredible that we’re even having this conversation, and no matter how you feel about individual glory in a team sport, you can come to the agreement that Shaun Livingston might deserve this Larry O’Brien Trophy a little more than the next guy.
His journey began back in 2004, when the highly-touted Illinois high school phenom out of Peoria Central High School became the 4th overall pick in the NBA draft to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Like the Clippers, Livingston’s early years did not produce a great amount of success. He was oft-injured, missing over 100 games in his first three seasons alone. And then tragedy struck.
The video posted below is about as NSFW as it gets, and it’s probably this play that you remember Shaun Livingston for most. Simply put, this is the most gruesome basketball injury in recent memory—an injury that produced repercussions that extended far past the prospects of him ever playing basketball again.
Considering the fact I feel like I want to puke when ever I type out the details of this injury I’m just going to copy and paste them and then scroll away:
In a game against the Charlotte Bobcats on February 26, 2007, Livingston suffered a debilitating knee injury, dislocating his left kneecap after landing awkwardly following a missed layup, resulting in the left leg snapping laterally. Livingston injured almost every part of his knee, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and the lateral meniscus, badly spraining his medial collateral ligament (MCL), and dislocating his patella and his tibio-fibular joint. The injury was so severe that ESPNEWS warned viewers of the graphic nature of the video clip before airing it. (ESPN)
Many medical professionals believed that amputating his leg was the only course of action. No one believed that he would even walk again. Yet here we are saying “Shaun Livingston, contributing member of an NBA Champion.”
However, the euphoric high of winning a title doesn’t come without the sobering reality of just how far he came to get there.
Shaun Livingston had every making of a stud NBA point guard. Standing tall at 6′ 7″ and equipped with incredible handles, he was a matchup nightmare.
Post-injury Livingston became nothing more than a journey man who oddly resembled a stretched out Andre Miller.
He struggled getting back into game shape, battled constantly to try and separate from being a shell of himself. The once-promising career of the Illinois native seemed as bleak as LeBron James’ title hopes without Dwyane Wade.
Ironically, he found himself as the primary defender on the self-proclaimed best player in the world when fellow Central Illinoian Andre Iguodala was on the bench.
It’s been a long journey for the former Mr. Basketball from the State of Illinois. One with tragedy that’s now culminated in triumph. Most individuals would have packed it up after sustaining a far less injury, but Shaun Livingston persevered and is now an NBA champion.
No one deserves that more than him.