Shaun Livingston is no longer that guy who survived that "gruesome," "horrific" injury seven years ago and never reached his true potential.
That narrative, so played out over and over again in his many stops since, is no longer who he is. Shaun Livingston is now something different, something better. He is the player whose insertion into the Nets battered starting lineup helped save the season, whose big game, big minute performances have made him not just an integral part of a contender but someone who fans (and presumably the front office) wonder how he can be re-signed.
As WFAN's Evan Roberts tweeted after his game-saving deflection, it was a bittersweet moment.
Can I be negative for a second…damn are we gonna miss Livingston next year!
— Evan Roberts (@JoeandEvan) March 13, 2014
Livingston has been non-committal about his future in recent interviews with ESPN and WFAN but always notes how much he enjoys playing in Brooklyn, how much he owes Jason Kidd, who pushed Billy King to sign him.
But lets' just appreciate what th 6'7" point guard with the unheard of 6'11.5" wingspan is giving the Nets this season. As John Schuhmann wrote before last night's game, he "embodies the Nets' new identity" and notes how much better the Nets are on D when Livingston is on the court. Never mind that injury...
This isn’t just a feel-good story, though. The Nets need Livingston, who has given them the identity that’s turned them into the team we’d thought they’d be at the beginning of the season with their $82 million starting lineup.
"You just try to find your niche," he said. "Sometimes, you got to find your value on the court. What’s going to help my team win games? [Andrei] Kirilenko is the same way. We’re active. We’re long. So we have to use that to our advantage."
Of course, that comment turned out to prophetic in the last 3.5 seconds of Wednesday's game against the Heat, when that pterodactyl like wingspan helped him deflect the ball and prevent the Heat from getting the last shot, one that would have won the game. It was his 43rd steal since January 1.
As Kidd said post-game, "We trust him with the ball, both ends. He has long arms and he understands. He uses his basketball IQ. He's gotten charges, he's come up with big plays on the defensive end."
His coach didn't have to recount his recovery from that injury or note what a great story he is. The great story now is how the guy with the vets minimum deal may be the Nets "most important player," as Schuhmann contends.
- Livingston embodies Nets’ new identity - John Schuhmann - NBA.com
- Shaun Livingston's 43 steals since January 1 (Video) - NBA Stats