Amputation! That was almost the fate for 28 year old NBA player prodigy Shaun Livingston when he suffered a horrific knee injury back in 2007. A harrowing injury to his left cap in the form of a dislocation that still haunts those who saw his career discombobulate to this day. Shaun was a raw and rising star on a young Clippers team that was still trying to take the purple and golden shine off Kobe Bryant’s Los Angeles Lakers before a nixed Chris Paul trade and a lob city taking off just outside of LAX with their power pilot Blake Griffin did so. A Clips team that wanted to recreate the promise of the Elton Brand, Lamar Odom and Darius Miles trilogy with their new potential. Livingston fit the bill of this new hip team with plenty of hops. From the cool, crop circle crafting cornrows to the blown out amazing afro for those big top games, the high socks and sleeves of S.L. showed that he had the style behind the back substance of those streetball style skills and slams that saved STAPLES from being an all Bryant affair like the departure of Shaquille years before. Still, perhaps those socks where a little too high because Livingston would become the next Miles for the Clips, but in the woefully wrong way. Darius could have become the second-coming of Kevin Garnett and the do-it-all future star of Los Angeles and the league but injuries put an end to his full potential career like the pennies from a Hardaway and the Clipper curse would cruelly continue.
The debilitating injury clawed away at Livingston’s body and spirit with a clash against the Charlotte Bobcats. The smooth star fell akwardly after a missed lay-up and that looked like all she wrote. Shaun’s left leg snapping laterally and in lamens terms almost every part of his knee was one and done. The guy that was about to rip the league apart tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), and the lateral meniscus of his knee and if that wasn’t enough for the injury box-score he significantly sparined his medial collateral ligament (MCL), and dislocating his patella and his tibia-femoral joint. They could have made a ‘the knee bones connected to the hip bone’ song out of all this maddening mess. The instant replay was so graphic it came with parental advisory stickers for its explicit content. This was no joke however as doctors told the young valiant star that they may have to take his leg. It would take months of rehab before he’d walk again…if ever. Suddenly the other hunderd or so games he missed early in his career due to being injury prone didn’t matter. Suddenly the Clippers-at that time-best regular season record in 2005 to 2006 that he helped accumulate didn’t matter either. Neither did the amazing assist high of 14 against Golden State for his career. Neither did the breakout year he was having before the breakdown. None of it mattered at that moment. The young man that led Concordia Lutheran Grade School and Peoria Central High School to two LSA titles and two Class AA ones respectively whilst becoming a McDonalds All-American was trying to digest something far more important to his lifes nutrition. One of the ‘100 Legends of the IHSA Boys Basketball Tournament’ and a man that skipped the prestigious Duke university alumni to be one of the last legacy making high-school players to go straight to the league had something bigger to deal with than living up to the lofty expectations of his fourth pick in the ’04 draft. This guy wanted more than just to play again.
He wanted to be able to walk again. The road to recovery was going to be a long one but the tall 6 foot 7 point guard, with a 6, 11 wingspan that drew comparisons to another tall L.A. point named Johnson wanted to show the world true magic like a Mos Def album most definitly and defiantly. The road may have been long and winding but Livingston was determined to take it all with both feet planted firmly on the ground, all the way until his sneakers reached hardwood. As slight as the 175 pound 2004 Illinois Mr. Basketball was he wanted to show and prove like Evander Holyfield once said, “It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters”. Boy, does this kid have heart too like a boxer seconds from out. When most players would shriek and shrink from an injury like this and fade into the obscurity of the D-league, Europe or the millionaires comfortable cheque of retirement, Shaun showed his career was far from the dead and continued living instead of surving like the first part of his surname. The journey back took almost seven years, three shy of a decade and all of what many consider an NBA players-a guard especially-prime. Still at 28, Shaun is still young and still here minus the youthful ‘fro and fail thrown passes. The maturity is there as well as the recovery. With much more time on the clock this is one appreciative argument for skipping college for the pros and the graduation that comes from personal and professional growth through any adversity. Now that is truly where amazing happens in this NBA league. The Clips may have left their injured young star a free agent in 2008 but this blessing in bittersweet disguise helped Shaun Livingston become tha man and name he is today. At that moment with everything against him he truly became free and the person he was meant to be.
The player he was always meant to be too, because he was far from done. This case for the ‘Most Improved Player’ has a ‘Most Inspiring’ chapter to this storybook ending for the verses and stanzas. Amazingly as early as the Summer of 2008-just a year and a few months change since the horrific injury-doctors allowed Shaun to continue the kind of Basketball activities Laker fans want Kobe to be able to carry on and carry out today. His leg was saved and now it was up to this heroic and brave young man to save his career before the scouts forgot him along with the critics and analysts who should really look for a new job right now. Looking for a big-league contract and comeback the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers took inspired interest but there was no guarantees. Inking a deal with the Miami Heat got Shaun’s talented career the break it needed, but cooled off averages of a point and some in the garbage time of less than a weeks worth of scheduled games made this a slow and steady race. A trade to Memphis then came before Livingston was placed on waivers before the time he even got to check out the state of Tennessee. It was time and tide to show the NBA his development from the shadows before a career curtain call came. So Shaun headed to the Tulsa 66ers of the D-league to show the association that he deserved to be back in the band of brothers via the sister league. Thank the Basketball purist God’s for the D-leagues potential because the 66’ers associated Oklahoma City Thunder drafted him out of there with a multi-year deal. Unfortunatly however this contract wouldn’t outlast a calender year and Livingston was released yet again, but I bet the team that gave up James Harden wishes they still had another product of big hair even with their championship caliber now. The addition of a player like Shaun would guarantee a chip like that contract security this young man so desperately craved.
This career depression looked cruelly even worse than the injury that floored him and started this whole mess off. Still, keeping his head up and cleaning up his game Shaun Livingston never gave up despite all the years of hurt and heartbreak that would reduce most players and men-even years and teams older-to physcial and mental breakdowns. 10 day contracts may be one of the best things for the redemption of raw or injury ravaged players like Livingston because after signing one with the Washington Wizards to begin the second decade of the new milleniuum he began spells in D.C. and with the Charlotte Bobcats. Ironically with the team that he played against when he almost ended his career, his playing time looked like it was coming back and just getting started with these ‘cats. Despite the basement dwelling and the down and outs, Shaun was just happy to be playing and really performing. Becoming an NBA journeyman and not the franchise face he hoped to be early in his career, Livingston was bounced around the league and America from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Houston Rockets and then back to Washington before he hit the lows of a post-LeBron Cleveland. We just hope he got emough room on all those flights for that knee. Still inbetween all the teams and tears of a career turned into a classic case of what could have been, Livingston finally found renaissance from injury and the injustice of an oft-ignored career redemption from a franchise that was looking for their own one leaving New Jersey for Brooklyn, hitting downtown New York with a new battle for the Big Apple against the Knicks behind their king owner (former) and rap legend Jay-Z and his business plan. Originally signed by legendary Point Guard coach Jason Kidd to back-up best P.G. in the league Deron Williams for one year, Shaun Livingston has proven to be Brooklyn’s finest for this franchise. So much so that Jason will keep this kid like he’ll keep his tie-off when this guy is playing.
Despite Williams all-star lead and the billionaire power of Mikhail Prokhorov bringing in former Celtic big-three champions Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to shoot and shout down the opposition with the likes of one of the last few big men in Brook Lopez and Russian gunner Andrei Kirilenko, the Nets have more gains when it comes to Shaun. We aren’t talking about tha Carter either although the play of S-Dot Livingston has drawn the best rapper alive and former owner back to his courtside seat. Even with Beyonce sitting next to him the purist fans are focussed on the floor and the guy thats dancing on it like his knee never saw the knife. These Brooklyn nights are even more exciting than those Marvel comics (and you thought Peter Parker’s amazing Spider-Man was this towns hero and latest scoop) with a story as inspirational as the one of teammate Jason Collins’ comeback. With the injury of big-stars and the ageing of former legends this team needed something more than the steady scoring of Joe Johnson. Beyond the all-star talent they still needed the hunger for more. The type of killer instinct that comes from a guy that almost lost it all…and that my basketball friends comes from Shaun. More than his wing opening back-court play or his gritty defensive hounding. More than the fact that he can still shoot and slam his way to spark-plug and clutch plays, this guy is something. More than statistics, it’s more like persistence and thats real power in this league full of quote-en-quote “power” players. The real star is the former young buck that now has the veteran saavy to take the prime and the rest of his career beyond the waivers and injured-reserve lists while he takes his team even further. ‘DNP-CD’ will no longer come next to this mans name, but something with the word ‘most’ in and champion might. LeBron, Miami, Chicago, the East and the west of the league led by Kevin Durant and Oklahoma beware. The turnaround of this money brought Nets powerhouse came from a man that turned his whole life around and cost less than the buck and change he weighs. The Barclays Centre can bank on this kid taking them to the current success of the big-league pay-offs. It’s more than money when it comes to the heart and soul of Shaun. Its the 23 point high note or the 8.5 points per 100 possessions better this team becomes when he’s on the floor. The same floor it almost all ended for Livingston. The same floor he’ll always leave it all out there on. Now THAT is how you comeback. Amazing!
Boogie’s Productions Down Again
Cousins injured again…we can’t relate to that.
When former Sacramento star and New Orleans Pelican DeMarcus Cousins joined the Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green Golden State Warriors to begin last season critics dubbed this superteam unfair.
What was unfair however was the ACL injury that kept Boogie sidelined for most of the season and then the quad injury on top of that in the playoffs that made sure the Warriors wouldn’t be dancing in their final chapter in Golden State.
But as D.C. made a Cali move too like the Dubs across the Golden Gate to San Francisco, heading to LeBron’s Lakerland with former frontcourt friend Anthony Davis, what was really unfair is what’s just come out of a practice run this week.
Cousins has tore his ACL again in a horrible twist of fate.
This games God’s people.
When DeMarcus reunited with the same former New Orleans big man that rocked his jersey in beautiful All Star tribute a couple of seasons back when they briefly flew together as Pelicans this Summer, the Lakers furthered their favourite status like tapping that heart on Twitter. Even if the Clippers ended up being the ones that got Kawhi Leonard…and Paul George too for the new battle of Los Angeles, raging against the Lakers Hollywood machine, the Lake Show have the ‘Space Jam 2’ of the King and the ‘brow. Not to mention the difference maker like rising star Kyle Kuzma in the veteran one of Cousins.
Either one of them will blow, or both, as the other will show he’s still got it. Giving the West’s best the biggest force of an interchangeable frontcourt. As the Lakers could either go with the more muscle version of a Tim Duncan and David Robinson twin towers in the Pelican reunited Kentucky Wildcats of Davis and Cousins and ‘Bron. Or the most dynamic duo since Shaq and Kobe of James and A.D. and the one young core star who didn’t get switched for this franchise player in Kuz, who could form a big three if the injured Cousins isn’t already still a part of one. Despite the writing off medical report.
And we haven’t even got to his Kentucky alumni Rajon Rondo led backcourt, or last year’s all dunking and blocking big headband and hair spark JaVale McGee. A gym rat who re-upped after almost going for both the Defensive Player Of The Year and Most Improved Player award in the first month of last seasons 82 campaign.
The Lakers are going to need him and that first wind of last year now more than ever.
Or the California club have some decisions to make for who to put in purple and gold for their almost meant to be final roster spot (DON’T AMNESTY!). Do they still wait for another former Warrior in Sixth Man, defensive legend Andre Igudola? Or do they leave him and the long rumoured other Anthony in Carmelo and pick up another big? Guys like Nené, Amir Johnson, Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried, Zaza Pachulia and Marcin Gortat are still on the market like fresh fruit stalls. And even Dwight Howard of all people have expressed (more like blatantly begged for publicity) for a return to Lakerland after his Hollywood divorce.
Because we have no idea when Boogie will be back. Or if he will even be the same player when he returns. Or if he even was before this injury happened. But despite history rewriting so many careers crippled by injury we still believe. We still believe he has superstar status and could be the X-factor difference maker when he returns late in the game to this Hollywood scripted rivalry like he almost was last season in the Finals against Toronto as he flips it. You saw him almost become a Splash Brother with that three, so just you wait until you see him downtown in STAPLES this season when it’s all said and buzzer beater done.
The bridge is far from over.
New Nike Philadelphia Seventies Sixers Jerseys Are A Classic Edition
Philadelphia soul on ice.
Ever since Nike partnered up with the NBA like ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ there has been a fast and furious release of rock solid jerseys for the hardwood over the last couple of seasons. From the Association, to the Icon’s and Statement’s made. Last year the ‘Just Do It’ swoosh even helped Basketball’s best put on a vest for the City. Adding even more to the closet collection when it came to some alternates for the teams that made the postseason push to the playoffs.
But now if you thought fo, fo, four jerseys that have at least one changing by the year was enough for your locker room or throwback budget, then just you wait. Because all these fits and drips may be iconic, but Nike are about to release an addition that really is Classic for the five man team. Over the next calendar the Classic Edition jerseys will belong to only 12 franchises in this 30 strong league. Less than half for the next year that we hope includes some storied Lakers and Celtics duds.
But what better team to introduce this new tradition than the one with more classic throwbacks than Mitchell and Ness in the Philadelphia 76ers? The City of Brotherly Love may have lost Jimmy Butler and J.J. Reddick this offseason, but they’ve gained even more threads for new team player Al Horford and mainstays Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris to rock with the rock as they push it down court next season.
Open your arms to that.
The classic PHILA Philadelphia jerseys have already been brought back with a next generation twist. Whilst the 76ers seem to be the only team who could still put up those Christmas script jerseys long after other teams have gone in the New Year sales. But with the only court apparel competition being what looks in the mirror as they try these on, the Sixers have out done and stitched themselves yet again. Bringing back like 1971, Hal Greer and ‘The Kangaroo Kid’, Billy Cunningham, the iconic and creative “Seventies Sixers” jerseys. A jumping, forgotten retro relic and slept on classic until now.
Waking up the league, back to the future in a Ford Mustang the Motown era of a classic Bad Boy, Detroit Pistons would be proud…or jealous of (inch or mile, you should have got there sooner Motor City men), Embiid and Simmons in a slick photoshoot sharing an ‘S’ on the chest popped the hood and revealed all the intricate workings underneath, bringing this classic back on the road like Hall & Oates.
Hold on we’re going home.
Before the process. Before the answer. Even before “fo, fo, fo”, Cunningham and the Sixers represented Philly like steak and cheese. The 1970’s where a defining era for the city. Philadelphia soul made its mark from stereos to nightspots and some young fighter named ‘Rocky’ went the distance with some kid called Creed as some man going by the name Sly Stallone wrote a classic movie. Oh and Questlove of the legendary Roots crew was born. Along with another Philly legend you might also be familiar with.
With this thrift shop like find that celebrates the spirit and legacy of a city that reinvents itself more times than it does it’s wardrobe, this is the perfect “new” look for a team that could take inspiration from their past when it comes to their latest reinvention on court. Playing on without the services of their Butler, or top downtown gunner J.J.
And after all they’ve loved and lost over the years, even if you don’t trust it you can always try on the process now.
And its a look that could fit over seventy games this season.
Now that has the makings of a classic.
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