Shaun Livingston: The Ultimate Betrayal
The career of NBA player Shaun Livingston began with so much promise.As a 6’7 PG he is an extremely rare commodity. (To view that in perspective, PF Carlos Boozer is 6’9) Naturally, hopes were high. Imaginations ran wild with what such a player could do with that size, at that position. Livingston was a highly coveted prospect in the 2004 NBA draft class. And was taken fourth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers not only because of this uniqueness, but because he actually had sick point guard skills to go along with it.
As a star at Peoria Central High (Peoria, IL) Livingston led his team to Class AA state titles in both 2003 and 2004. He was also named Illinois Mr. Basketball as a senior in ’03-’04. A season in which he averaged 18.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists. After which Livingston became only the fourth Illinois Mr. Basketball in history to jump directly from high school to the NBA. Putting him in the company of Darius Miles, Eddy Curry, and Kevin Garnett. The stage was set for Shaun Livingston to become legendary.
If only Shaun Livingston’s body had known that said stage had been set. If only it had been willing to cooperate. In his very first season with the Clippers, Livingston missed a total of 52 games due to injury. 39 of those with a dislocated right patella (kneecap). And 13 with torn cartilage in his right shoulder. Things would get better momentarily and then come crashing down.
The next season (2005-2006) Livingston saw action in a career-high 61 games. Averaging 5.8 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.0 rebounds in 25mpg. He managed to miss only the first 21 contests of the season with a lower back stress reaction.
Livingston was able to carry that momentum into the following season. Appearing in 54 games (31 starts) and averaging 9.3 points, 5.1 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.09 steals in 29.8 minutes. He scored in double figures a career-high 26 times, handed out double-digit assists three times and even registered a couple of double-doubles. Things were going well for “Sdot”. He was becoming the player that everyone thought he would be. Finally showcasing the talents that warranted his being a lottery pick in 2004. But then the injury bug came back to bite him. This time with a vengeance.
At the 8:10 mark of the first quarter against Charlotte on February 26, 2007, Livingston dislocated his left knee on a fast-break. Suffering tears to the ACL, PCL, MCL and lateral meniscus in the process. He also suffered a patella dislocation and a tibia/femoral dislocation. In layman’s terms, his left knee was destroyed. Almost completely disassembled. Livingston missed the final 26 games of the season and the following season in its entirety. (see video below)
After surgery and recovery, Livingston returned to the NBA in the ’08-’09 season with the Miami Heat. One must admire his perseverance. He appeared in 12 games, splitting the season between Miami and Oklahoma City. He has also seen action with the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Developmental league. There he averaged 9.5 points, 6.0 assists, and 3.5 rebounds in 29.4 minutes per game. Ironically, Livingston will be playing for the Charlotte Bobcats next season. The team in which he was playing against on the night of his horrific injury.
Repeated injuries must weigh heavily on the psyche of an athlete. Especially an injury of this magnitude. Regardless, the “Next-Magic Johnson” that never was has made his way back. Betrayed by his own body at such a young age, injuries may have stolen his dream of living up to original expectations. Those still holding him to these expectations and asking him to become that player must understand the gravity of that request. —Examiner.com