"He's a great person on and off the court and he deserves everything that he's been recognized for," Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd said of Shaun Livingston after the team's 108-95 win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.
After having played just under 32 minutes and scoring 12 points in the Nets' 34th win of the season, Livingston set two career highs in minutes played in a season (1,617) and points scored in a season (506). Previously, he sets highs in minutes played (1,611) and points (503) in the 2006-07 season when he played for the Los Angeles Clippers. Of course that was before the collective NBA community wondered if Livingston would ever suit up and play in the Association after he suffered what was assumed to be a career-ending injury on February 26, 2007.
Livingston has already set career-bests in starts and has been a major part in the Nets' resurgence since the turn of the calendar year, to a point where Kidd opted to use Livingston as a starter even when Deron Williams returned from injury.
"I'm blessed, obviously, coming this far," Livingston said after Monday night's game. "Coming this far, I appreciate every minute. Every minute I'm out there I'm very appreciative and thankful for my journey and just trying to keep on."
Livingston said that he didn't know his minutes were "getting up there," saying that Jason Kidd did tell him at the All-Star break that his minutes were climbing and trending toward a career-high. Kidd admitted after the game he "may be playing him too much," while Livingston responded that he doesn't think there's such thing as playing too many minutes.
As Kidd notes, Livingston's story is "incredible," later saying, "I couldn't ask for a better player to coach and to be around." I can't speak to the latter, but in covering the NBA you rarely "root" for individual players -- it's a business, it's your job, it's not personal -- but in being around Livingston, even the limited capacity that I am, it's hard not to root for him and be in complete awe as he's triumphed over tragedy.