by Matt Caputo
For the second time this season, Shaun Livingston has a second chance at the NBA career many thought he’d have. The gruesome knee injury almost ended Livingston’s playing days in 2007 is now a distant memory, it’s taken . After the Miami Heat tested the still-recovering Livingston, signed him and traded him to Memphis in January. Dishearteningly, the struggling Grizzlies released him on the same day the deal went down. Livingston stayed under the radar for a minute before resurfacing with the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA D-League in early March. Three weeks after signing with the 66ers, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s D-League affiliate, the big club decided to call the 23-year-old guard up and sign him to a multi-year deal.
We’ve been following Livingston’s progress pretty closely at SLAM. Back in Issue 111, Livingston spoke about his recovery process for our backboard page.
The Long Road Back
With his horrific, YouTubed injury in the past, one-time phenom Shaun Livingston is gamely looking forward.
FROM SLAM 111 / As told to Konate Primus
First and foremost, I want to thank all my fans, friends and family for staying loyal and helping me get through this time in my life. That goes for the ones in Illinois as well as L.A.
I don’t even know how to describe my injury. I didn’t really understand how bad it was. I thought it was just a dislocated knee cap or something—which it turned out to be, but it felt a lot worse. My initial feelings were like, Damn, I didn’t know it was that severe. There wasn’t really any need to panic. I’ve dealt with injury situations before; this wasn’t new, so I was just going to go with the flow and think positive. It’s so hard to describe…the pain was unreal.
Sometimes it feels like there is something out there that doesn’t want me to be the All-Star I know I can be. But I am a firm believer in “Everything happens for a reason.” Obviously this is a situation where people are going to say, “He’s not coming back, he’s not this, he’s not that,” but shit happens. I mean, things happen in life and not just to me. These types of things happen to everyone. It’s not being vulnerable; it’s just looking at life the way it is from a realistic standpoint. I’m a believer in God and I believe that he puts things in your path for a reason.
I had surgery about three months ago. They repaired my ligaments and snapped my knee cap back in place. The doctors haven’t given me any feedback on when I can return because this is quite a complex injury. The timetable is not set in stone; it’s more playing it by ear and seeing how my knee holds up.
Since the injury, I’ve been doing my rehab and staying busy with a lot of work outside basketball. This injury gave me the opportunity to work on some of my offcourt goals and try to strengthen my website and my foundation, working with underprivileged kids and partnering up with other foundations to build up the community. I’m also becoming more business oriented. I’m getting my feet wet in real estate and I’m still out in L.A., so obviously the movie industry is something I want to get into. I’m really just exploring all options because of the injury. As of now I can’t hoop, run or work out my lower body. There are so many things I can’t do now because of my knee, so I have a lot of free time. A lot is on the backburner until I get my knee rehabilitated, so I’m using my time wisely.
Don’t get me wrong, though, basketball is still my number-one priority. I feel like I have plenty of time left. My camp and I are very confident that I will make a comeback. It’s not really a comeback because I don’t really see it that way—I’m just looking at it as an injury that happened, and I’m not going to rush anything. I’m walking, going to therapy five days a week and concentrating on getting back to the court. Everything else is just post-career.
Personally, I would say so far my career has been pretty inconsistent because of all the injuries I’ve dealt with since my rookie year. But like I said, everything happens for a reason. I could either stay down and complain or keep it moving. And if you couldn’t tell, I’m moving. Now you know!