NBA Finals: Ex-Clippers guard Shaun Livingston made inspirational journey

Mar 8, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston (34) passes the ball after dribbling past Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) in the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 106-89. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 8, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston (34) passes the ball after dribbling past Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) in the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 106-89. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

Former Clippers and current Warriors guard Shaun Livingston played a critical role in Golden State’s second consecutive run to the NBA Finals, despite recovering from one of the worst injuries ever.

Los Angeles Clippers fans might find it difficult rooting for the Golden State Warriors’ back-to-back NBA Championships, considering the two teams play in the Pacific Division. However, it is difficult for anyone to not root for Clippers alumni and Warriors guard Shaun Livingston.

Once a star for the Clippers, he fell to NBA nomad. Now, Livingston recovered and he is a key reserve with the most dominate team in NBA regular season history.

In game one of the NBA Finals, Livingston scored 20 points to lead seven double-figure scorers as the Warriors beat the Cavaliers 104-89.

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“Shaun Livingston played out of his mind,” Golden State’s Klay Thompson said after the game via Yahoo Sports.

Many expected the Warriors to get a lot of points from their backcourt of Thompson and MVP Steph Curry. Not many expected Livingston to be the difference maker. However, Livingston has defied the odds his entire career.

At a mere 18-years-old, Shaun Livingston was selected as the No.4 overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.

The 2004 Mr. Basketball skipped college basketball and he seemed like he was headed towards becoming the future of the Los Angeles Clippers.

In his first three years, Livingston missed 101 of 246 games. The 6 foot, 7 inches guard averaged 7.4 points and 4.8 assists during his time in Los Angeles.

Then, on Feb. 26, 2007 everything changed. The injury was so bad that ESPNEWS warned viewers before viewers showed it.

“My leg was deformed. My knee joint was dislocated and out of place. It was painful. Ten seconds felt like an hour,” Livingston recalled via the Undefeated. “It was only like 10-15 seconds. But until they put my knee back into place, it was excruciating for sure.”

At 21-years-old, the slender point guard snapped his leg like a twig. Most fans called it the most gruesome injury ever.

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Livingston tore his ACL, PCL, dislocated his left kneecap, broke his right leg, and tore his lateral meniscus. Doctors feared a damaged artery in his leg. They even talked about amputation.

Needless to say, he missed the entire 2007-08 season. It took him 16 months just to resume basketball activities as Livingston had to learn walk again.

Then Livingston became a free agent when the Clippers did not even make him an offer after2007-08 season.

The road to relevance went through nine NBA teams and one D-League squad. Livingston was waived by the Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, and Oklahoma City Thunder before getting a contract with Washington. He started 18 of 26 games with the Wizards, which earned him a contract with the Bobcats.

The Bobcats cut him that season after trading him twice. He eventually landed on the Cavaliers before finally settling with the Nets. Livingston played a career high 76 games and averaged 8.3 points and 3.2 assists with Brooklyn.

Finally, Livingston joined the Warriors when he signed a three-year, $16.3 million contract on July 11, 2014.

Last season he averaged 6.3 points and 3.3 assists as a major reserve for the Champion Warriors.

This season, Livingston played in a career-high 78 contests. Golden State still did not allow him to play more than 30 minutes a night. He also did preventative maintenance and strength work on his lower body.

It worked as Livingston has played a key role in the Warriors playoff run. The 30-years-old guard scored five points and six rebounds in a Western Conference Finals Game 7 win over the Thunder.

Despite the modest stat line, Livingston got two buckets which ignited a 12-0 run that helped the Warriors defeat the Thunder.

One of those buckets included a nasty dunk. Livingston struggled the whole series, but this time, he did not settle for a jumper.

Livingston sent the fans screaming as he finished a one-handed dunk. It symbolized the Warriors battle through adversity as they came back in a series that they trailed 3-1 to the Thunder.

More importantly, it illustrated his relentless attitude which helped Livingston battle from an almost tragic injury.

The playoff success is not surprising to his MVP teammate.

“Sometimes there’s really nothing you can do about it. You try to just contest his shot, but sometimes he won’t even see you,” Curry said via Yahoo Sports. “I’ll play the best defense of my life and he’ll knock down a shot.”

Livingston also filled in for an injured Curry early in the playoffs. He averaged 16 points and four assists in his three starting appearances against the Rockets.

Then Livingston averaged 8.8 points and 5.3 assists in four starts against the Blazers— a series that included his out-of-character ejection in Game 4.  He scored 10 points off the bench in the clinching Game 5 win.

Along the way, Livingston became an inspiration for many people dealing with serious leg injuries. Fans often shout him out on social media, according to He wants to continue his inspirational story with a book on his life.

Clippers fans will always recall that Livingston was a part of the 2005-06 postseason run with Los Angeles.

Many Clippers fans may wonder what Livingston could have meant to the franchise without the horrific injury.

Livingston represented hope for the Clippers. He and forward Elton Brand were supposed to become a dynamic duo alongside solid players like Corey Maggette.

However, the injury made Livingston into the successful player he is today.

Moreover, Livingston represents hope for any basketball player recovering from injury.

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It may be difficult to root for the rival Warriors in the NBA Finals as they try to beat the Cavaliers in a seven-game series. However, Livingston’s inspirational return to glory means Clippers fans can’t help rooting for him.