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 street-ball 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 awkwardly after a missed lay-up and that looked like all she wrote. Shaun’s left leg snapping laterally and in laymans 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 crucite ligament (PCL), and the lateral meniscus of his knee and if that wasn’t enough for the injury box-score he significantly sprained 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 hundred 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 definitely 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 surviving 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 the 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. Unfortunately however this contract wouldn’t outlast a calendar 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 physical 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 millennium 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 enough room on all those flights for that knee. Still in-between 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 focused on the floor and the guy that’s 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 that’s 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 savvy 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!
Jared Dudley Is The Lakers Unsung Hero
There’s a hero that could save us in Hollywood right now.
And I ain’t talking about The King.
Or the Brow to ‘Bron in A.D. and his best since Shaq and Kobe dynamic duo combining for 70 like one off Elgin Baylor’s career high.
I ain’t talking about Kuz. Canada’s champ Danny Green from downtown purple and gold. Or the redemption reunion of Superman returns Dwight Howard in the hash-tag “Washed King’s” revenge season.
I ain’t even talking about the bald identity of my hero the Alex Caruso show this time.
I’m talking about Jared Dudley people.
Yeah I said it!
Not the same Jared that got replaced by Joaquin as The Joker. Not the same Dudley that got nut checked by Shaquille O’Neal on the Knicks before lamely quarterback pitch throwing the ball after him on the inbound technical (we didn’t think centers apart from Shaq could pass like that). Or the same J.D. that like going with Coke welcomed us to Atlanta with Ludacris. But just Jared.
You may think the former Brooklyn boy fan favourite owns the last roster spot that should have gone to a blazing Carmelo. Or still a free agent Jamal Crawford (even a J.R. Smith?!). A spot reserved for Andre Igudola once he gets out of contract hell. Or even a South Bay call-up for legendary names in young Lakers like Antetokounmpo, Stockton and Payton II. And let’s not forget the one Ingram they didn’t trade in the Grey Mamba ‘dre.
And with that headband over his shaved dome you may think the guy who Balenciaga bigger than Basketball looks the part in the players only catwalk runway to the stadium for his fashion fit drip looks like he’ll definitely be in ‘Bron’s ‘Space Jam’ sequel too. That’s all for your insults folks (“baldy?!”). But with that number ten to go with the head check he kind of looks like a less ripped version of a former King that used to kill the Lakers…and that’s no insult to J.D. Have you see Mike Bibby these days? He really is a unit.
But to me he looks like one of those bench energy guys who lifts the whole team in the mould of a Rony Turiaf or ‘Mad Dog’ Mark Madsen. Even if his time on the pine is more than on the hardwood. He still has his Laker legend like that photoshopped number 10 next to James and Davis for the new big three, tongue in cheek.
And speaking of that number ten you just may see that jersey in the seats of STAPLES almost as much as the King’s 23. Why you ask. Are fans waiting until A.D. adds a King’s 2 to his 3 as LeBron carries the 6? Was there a sale? An in-game giveaway like that Shaq City Edition being on everyones seats pregame for its debut in L.A.?
It’s because Dudley has literally been gifting his number ten signature to almost everyone (hello!) whose asked this season on Twitter and it isn’t even Christmas yet. What a statement. And if you thought that was a grand gesture then half of these people in the stands in tens are there because Jared has personally left comp tickets waiting for them for games at will call (the other half probably just in thanks). Not just at STAPLES…but on the road too. Now how’s that for player power? Reaching out to fans in precarious positions, with problems when it comes to getting to games, or even those whose lifelong dream was just to see Hollywood’s Lakers live and in living colour one time.
He’s done it countless. More times than the 23 and 2 team to start their best season since the year 2000 have won.
Now how about that? You love to see it. Right now no one does more for the fans than the people’s champ Jared Dudley.
When he gets his ring it won’t be from riding coattails, but giving his all, everything.
And let’s not forget the heart and hustle he puts down on the floor every night his box score doesn’t read DNP-CD for a second, or minute of time.
Let’s see more from Dudley.
The Lake Show are the Hollywood story of the season. But we all know when it comes to the script from the Basketball God’s you need your character actors as much as the academy of award winners. And if Jared Dudley really is the Lakers unsung hero in L.A. like Denis Irwin was for Manchester United (know your history) it’s time to hit the high notes and shoot our shot like he does his.
Now is this enough for me to get a jersey Jared?
DO Call It A Carmelo Comeback. Anthony Is Guaranteed For Years
Three fingers like “what’s your poison” and shots to the dome like LL Cool J’s comeback. I’m calling it…
La La said knock you out.
They say there are no guarantees in this life, or league. But now after almost crossing off an entire calender, Carmelo Anthony has one in this league of X and O’s.
You best believe every team that slept on him has woke up now.
O.K. Thunder? Like old New York. No ‘Melo in Lakers yellow, or Houston’s problem.
And let’s not talk about that ATL jersey Atlanta tried to hawk.
The Nugget type of fellow that Nelly rapped about like ‘Na-Nana-Na’, with the heart of a champion sweat until he was no longer in a suit and part of the Sportscenter theme again. After waiting longer to align with The King in Hollywood for this Game Of Thrones than another Anthony (Davis), Carmelo ended up coming up roses in the RIP City of Portland. And boy has he blazed a trail. Voltron forming arguably a big three with the best backcourt in the league not in this nation’s capital with C.J. McCollum and Dame ‘Time’ Lillard with the look like the OK3 of Russell Westbrook and PG3 and not the Beard and the Brow.
And now he’s exceeded everyone’s greatest expectations. As one of the G.O.A.T.’s has polished his path to the Hall with a comeback even better than the return of Superman Dwight Howard with the Lakers…which could have had a Hollywood sequel with Carmelo’s comeback.
But the Lakers loss is the PDX’s blazing gain.
What more would you expect from a guy who still put up competent averages in the soaring Rockets cosmos, despite being grounded by little court acclaim? The problems in Houston could have actually been attributed to another guy who ended up ousted and in an Oklahoma home too. Despite the trolls who are now trading in hot takes like they never simulated 2K videos of him building a Commodore house with his shot selection. Or the analysts who are changing their discussion like a report rewrite.
Carmelo ain’t calming down. Anthony is taking everyone back to school.
Class has been in session.
And how about the report card? Eight games. 16.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Big shots. Western Conference Player of the Week. All Star legend spot? He belongs like the Carushow in the Slam Dunk Contest. He’s unstoppable like LeBron James’ Eurostep, spin-cycle lay-up that is like a runaway freight…word to Denzel Washington. Or his Kareem sky-hook. Tokyo 2020 Team USA bid for the best in five rings Olympic legend in his golden age? Big shots from the double 0 like seven. From nothing twice?! This is no time to die Mr. Bond.
He’s gone toe-to-shot with the MVP. Showed he was more than a most imported or Sixth Man, but still a star. More than the name, but the actual game. And now he’s guaranteed to be around for a while longer like he never left, but is here to stay. As the Blazers changed the trail on the end of the signature of his contract before the ink even dried for this guy’s with the wet jumper like staying outside in the snow with your ugly NBA sweater this Christmas.
This tax is more than a luxury. It’s about to cap off a classic career with one compelling closing chapter.
Even when he bit career highs at the core of his career in the Big Apple, the ever humble hero Carmelo was a walking and dribbling, “I just take it one game (or day) at a time” postgame soundbite like he has been in his comeback off court to on it. Well now the Blazers can guarantee him 365…or at least 82 or however far he takes them.
From the headband to the hoodie, stay ‘Melo. Anthony is here to stay.
Subscribe to our Newsletter!
Canadian Basketball Insider Newsletter