Saturday, January 11, 2014

Livingston proving himself after facing adversity

Photo Credit: AP
It was an incredible sight in Brooklyn last night. The Nets took on the Miami Heat for the second time this season, and they beat them for the second time this season. The game lasted 58 minutes, going into two overtimes, and players from both teams began showing fatigue.

Before the game had even gone to overtime, the Nets' starting point guard (while Deron Williams is out), Shaun Livingston, was already having a good game. He had scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in regulation, and had played good defense on Ray Allen, who finished the game shooting 2/14 from the field and 0/5 from behind the three-point line.

The real impressive play from Livingston came in the two overtimes. He had four points and two rebounds after regulation, allowing him to finish with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Something the numbers don't show is that while on the court in overtime, Livingston played lock-down defense and came up with a huge blocked shot on Ray Allen with 1:47 left in the second overtime.

Livingston saw his minutes hit 49, 50, and then was pulled as he reached his 51st minute on the court. This was a new career high in minutes played for the under-appreciated Livingston.

Let's now flash back to February 26, 2007. The Los Angeles Clippers, and their rising star Shaun Livingston, were taking on the Charlotte Bobcats. Livingston was running a one-on-one fast break when he landed awkwardly after a missed layup. This "awkward" landing led to the up-and-coming star completely destroying his knee. He suffered a torn ACL, PCL, and lateral meniscus, a badly sprained MCL, and a dislocated patella and tibial-femoral joint.

This isn't an injury that is "just a part of the game." Sure, injuries will happen. That's unfortunate, but it's the truth. Livingston's injury doesn't apply under those circumstances. This is an injury that may have ended his ability to even walk again. Doctors had even told him that his leg may have had to be amputated. Fortunately for Shaun, that didn't happen, but he did have to go through months upon months of rehab just to make sure he would walk again.

Things weren't looking good for Livingston's NBA career. He was in his third professional season when he suffered the horrific injury. Livingston missed the entire 2007-2008 season, which just happened to be the year his contract with the Clippers expired. He was not offered a $5.8 million qualifying offer by Los Angeles, and he became an unrestricted free agent.

In a matter of one year, Livingston went from being the one who would "revolutionize" the point guard position to having difficulty finding a permanent home. In his nine NBA seasons, Livingston has put on a uniform for nine different teams.

Now in Brooklyn, Livingston is putting on display that his injury did not, in fact, make him give up. With the Nets, Livingston is averaging 7.3 points, 3.3 assists, and 2.9 rebounds while shooting 45.5% from the field. He's playing 24.3 minutes per game, which is his most since 2006-2007, the year he suffered his traumatic injury.

It looks as if Livingston has found a home in Brooklyn. He's becoming a favorite among the fans, and is going to have a lot of interest coming his way this coming off-season.

The Nets are 8-2 this season when Livingston plays 30+ minutes, but they're an awful 2-9 when he plays under 20 minutes. This means one thing, and one thing only: Jason Kidd needs to let Livingston play. Whether it's him starting at the shooting guard and the Nets' playing the small lineup to start the game, or he comes off the bench to play sixth-man minutes, Livingston is one of the more effective Nets players. He needs to be on the court.

With injury concerns now being left in his past, Livingston is finally looking at what was once regarded as an extremely bright future.
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