If you had told Shaun Livingston moments after the Los Angeles Clippers selected him No. 4 overall in the 2004 draft that he would play 15 seasons in the NBA and win three championships, he almost certainly would’ve taken it in a heartbeat.
The last decade and a half may not have played out exactly like Livingston had hoped, but his career has been one of the most inspiring and fascinating of the 21st century.
And on Friday, Livingston brought it to an emotional close, announcing his retirement on Instagram.
His last coach, Steve Kerr, thanked Livingston on social media on Friday night after his announcement, too. Livingston spent his final five years in the league with Kerr and the Warriors, winning three NBA titles.
It’s hard to express how thankful I am to have coached this man the past 5 years. What an amazing combination of talent, grace, & character. I will miss his calm leadership,his presence, his passing & his turnaround jumpers in the post. Nothing but great things ahead! https://t.co/rWCPXfFmfB— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerr) September 14, 2019
Livingston had a world of promise
One of the last high schoolers to be able to make the jump straight to the NBA, Livingston forwent a scholarship to Duke to go pro. With a 6-foot-7 frame and 6-foot-11 wingspan, Livingston had a chance to revolutionize the point guard position with outstanding athleticism and size.
The transition to the NBA can be tough for any 19-year-old, but he began to fulfill that promise in his second year — when he wasn’t battling injuries — finishing second on the team with 4.5 assists to just 1.8 turnovers coming off the bench. He scored 7.5 points per game in the postseason, where his Clippers advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time ever.
Livingston became a regular in the starting lineup at 21 and upped his scoring to 9.3 points per game, but his breakout was brought to a screeching halt with a catastrophic knee injury. Facing the Charlotte Bobcats on Feb. 26, 2007, Livingston missed a layup and landed in the worst way possible. His left leg seemingly came apart, as he tore his ACL, PCL and lateral meniscus, sprained his MCL and dislocated his patella.
For a long time, there was a question of whether he would ever walk again, let alone set foot in another NBA game.
The long road to recovery for Livingston
Livingston spent all of the 2007-08 season recovering, and the Clippers let his contract expire without making him a qualifying offer. He eventually latched on with the Miami Heat but spent the next six years bouncing between eight teams.
Livingston played a career-high 73 games in 2010-11 with the Bobcats, but his real point of redemption came in 2013-14, when he started 54 games for the Brooklyn Nets. That was enough to catch the attention of an upstart team out west.
Fresh off a first-round playoff exit, the Golden State Warriors saw enough in Livingston to commit three years and $16 million to him. He became a key contributor off the bench over five years, winning three rings and proving to be an adequate replacement when Stephen Curry missed time in the 2016 postseason.
Livingston may never have become the star fans dreamed of, but he fulfilled his role as a defensive-oriented player who could pair with another point guard — all while showing incredible perseverance along the way.
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