Rumor has it that the poor guy might not be able to play at the NBA level again.
Read the SLAMonline Discussion Rules before posting.
Damn shame. Cannot say i’m completely surprised though.
Boy, that sucks.
I agree, he had buckets of talent, and seemed a lot more down-to-earth than most of today’s superstars.
Still can’t see his injury without feeling a little sick….
Poor guy. Can’t blame it on lack of effort. He tried his best to come back.
hey..im asking everyone..where can i wacht the 3rd final on internet?www.myp2p.eu?is that a good idea?
nooooooooooo i actually had hopes for dude
“Livingston destroyed his left knee after landing awkwardly following a missed layup against Charlotte in February 2007, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament, the posterior cruciate ligament, and the lateral meniscus.”
that just sounds horrible, i am surprised he can walk
that’s a terrible news to start a day (well as bad as basketball news goes anyway). i really wanted to see him develop as a player. wish him the best from now on.
Damn. I feel it for him. This should bring into question whether or not HS players are PHYSICALLY developed enough to play in the NBA. Dwight Howards and Kobe’s are the anomoly. Physically his body was not ready for the NBA and he should not have played until he was ready. I hope he can make it back one day and fulfill his big time potential.
Another reason to check back on a story I wrote on a high school kid, though unlike L.Powe, it’s not a good reason. This kid was ridiculous in high school. It’s too bad…
Anyway, yeah, I’ll go ahead and post the whole thing. It’s from late ’03 or early ’04, if I remember correctly:
Shaun Livingston: Point of Pride
Like so many before him, Shaun Livingston came up in Peoria, Illinois, with a tough-as-nails game and an untouchable handle. And even when he leaves, he’ll always take a little bit of Peoria with him.
Words: Ryan Jones
The threats are directed at him, but Shaun Livingston is unfazed. Their words are brash, and they’ve got him outnumbered, but he doesn’t seem to sweat it in the least. If you scared, kid, say you scared. But…nothing. Shaun Livingston hears them, and their promises of impending harm, and all he can do is smile.
“Mark say he gonna mix you, Shaun.”
“Oh yeah?” There’s that grin again. He is unfazed. Maybe it helps that his tormentors are about 12 years old.
There are five or six of them, middle school-age kids congregating on the steps of the George Washington Carver Center in Peoria, IL. It’s early afternoon on Columbus Day, and the weather is cooperating, giving the local kids an unseasonably warm and flawlessly sunny day off from school. And so they’re congregating together in front of the Carver Center, one of those community gathering spots that acts as a magnet for area youth. They’d probably be here anyway, but they’ve got extra incentive today: Lingering out on the sidewalk, they watch Livingston—arguably the best prep point guard in the country—flash his supreme ball-handling skills for the benefit of a SLAM lensman.
And then they come with the threats.
It’s all love, of course—Shaun’s game is real enough that these kids might be expected to approach him with a sense of awe, but they know him too well to be star-struck. So they harass him instead, sounding as hard as they know how, challenging him to come into the Carver Center gym and get served. They’re old enough to know they’re overmatched, but young enough to think they might have a chance.
“You heard he said ‘mix you,’ right?” Shaun asks. “That’s like, to cross you over, embarrass you.” Yup, the new slang is mix-tape inspired. And in this town, they know all about it.
Understand, they’re nice with theirs in Peoria. Big Ten coaches have made a living there in recent years, with the likes of Illinois’ Frank Williams and Sergio McClain and Indiana’s AJ Guyton among recent Peoria stars to shine collegiately, while former DePaul standout Howard Nathan set it off in the early ’90s. They tend to be tough, and they tend to be even tougher to check. “Guys who come from Peoria can always dribble the ball,” Shaun confirms, “including the big guys.”
Maybe it’s something in the water of the Illinois River that flows along the city’s eastern edge. Whatever, there were others before, and there will be more to come; Shaun—a long, willowy 6-7 point guard who is the latest and may end up as one of the very best—is well aware of the legacy of which he’s a part.
“We’re not the big city, and the one thing about that is, almost everybody knows almost everybody,” Livingston says. “So you grew up and watched those great players—Frank Williams, Howard Nathan, all those guys—and you want to keep the torch going. I think that’s hopefully something I’ve been able to do—just keep expanding it.”
Expansion is a fitting concept, since Shaun’s rep has seen plenty of it lately. Starting with his MVP performance at the NBA Players’ Association Camp last June and followed by a standout run at the USA Basketball Youth Development Festival and a co-MVP effort at the adidas ABCD Camp, Livingston’s name and game got large in 2003. “I think the main thing was just consistency,” he begins. “I didn’t want to have a big blow-up tournament and then fall off. Anybody can have one of those. I think that was my main objective, to do it consistently and show everybody that the summer before wasn’t a fluke. I wanted to elevate myself even above that notch to try to get where I am now.”
As Livingston implies, the summer of ’03 was more of a confirmation than a coming-out party. He’s been considered one of the top players in his class for years—at least since seventh grade, when Sports Illustrated scribe Alexander Wolff rolled through Peoria for a chapter on a book he was working on. In Big Game, Small World, his 2002 tome to the global hoops culture, Wolff makes reference to a trick-dribbling middle schooler who, despite standing just 5-9 and 110 pounds, was “already ranked as the best prospect of his age in the country.” The seeds were planted even earlier. As he watches the photo shoot with a look of subdued pride, Shaun’s father, Reggie Livingston, shares some history. “He likes Pistol Pete a lot,” the elder Livingston says. “When he was younger, we’d get in the car, and he’d dribble the ball out the window while I drove around.”
In the years that followed, Shaun never fell terribly far from the top spot in the Class of ’04, but it was in his final high school summer that he made his claim as the best prep player in America not named Dwight Howard. “Dwight had the best summer, just because he was so dominant—but he gonna get enough love. That’s my boy though,” Livingston laughs as he bigs up Howard, the Atlanta-based big man who’s generally the only player in the country considered a better prospect than Shaun. “But I feel I had a pretty good summer.”
He should feel better than that. He was always good and often dazzling at the Players Association and USA Basketball events, but it was at ABCD Camp—with its over-the-top media attention and penchant for highlighting one-on-one matchups—that Livingston most publicly made his point. He opened the week with his worst game of the camp, getting lit up by top-20 Florida pg Darius Washington; while D-Wash nearly went for a double-double in his team’s blowout win, Livingston was held without a basket and managed just two assists. He’d blown all the momentum he’d brought into camp, leaving many observers (this one included) wondering if he was really ready to claim the title of Best PG in the Land. Shaun was having doubts of his own.
“That was something that I was struggling with that first day,” he says. “I think I doubted myself, confidence-wise, ’cause of the way the first day went. And I don’t think I should’ve done that. I was like, I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t meant to be here. I still feel I could’ve played better throughout the course of the camp, but gradually it kept getting better for me.”
Gradual became rapid on the last night of camp. Driving, dishing and scoring with flair during the week-ending Senior All-Star Game, smiling and laughing as his point-blank alleys were turned into an array of oops, Shaun showed off all aspects of his next-generation game. That all-star game performance was the exclamation point on his week; he’d done more than enough to put his name back atop the ’04 guard rankings. And given how deep the guard class is, that’s saying a lot.
A survey of the noteworthy recruiting lists shows a half-dozen seriously skilled point or combo guards (NYC’s Sebastian Telfair, Illinois’ Justin Cerasoli, Cali’s DeMarcus Nelson and Dorell Wright, Washington and Livingston) among the nation’s top 20 seniors. Others, like New York’s AJ Price, Cali’s Jordan Farmar and North Carolina’s JamesOn Curry, aren’t that far behind. Naturally, that depth means some will soak up the media shine while others
are overshadowed—and until this summer, at least, Shaun felt like one of the latter. The fact that he doesn’t fit the mold of most of his point-guard peers (6-footish and lightning quick) made it that much more obvious.
“I think it’s motivated me,” he admits. “Last summer, I felt I had a pretty good summer, and I felt I had good matchups against Darius and Sebastian. But they kinda stole the show, and I had to live with that. Coming back this summer, I wanted to take it to that next level, where they have to worry about competing with me.”
At least two of them will get their chance this winter: Livingston’s Peoria Central squad, a preseason top-10 pick, has games scheduled against Washington’s Orlando Edgewater and Cerasoli’s instate rival Aurora West. “They tried to get us on ESPN to play Lincoln, too,” Shaun says, referring to a matchup with Telfair’s Lincoln High squad that fell through. As it is, Livingston knows he shouldn’t be getting caught up in those overblown one-on-one battles. He also knows that he’s human. “It’s not good as far as being consistent, but right now, yeah, I think I get more motivated when I play against those top guys. That helps my determination,” he confirms. “I mean, it’s always gonna be there. That’s just part of the hype.”
Back in Peoria on Columbus Day, the hype is happily absent. While our man Thierry (lying on the concrete to get the right angle) clicks away, Shaun dips, lunges and twists for the camera; he’s precise with the rock, pulling his dribble to and fro, between the legs, up and back, at hard-to-fathom angles. He’s showing off, but only because we asked him to. As he stares through his lens, our man Thierry is getting mixed.
This is Livingston’s game in snapshot form, a long-armed yo-yo attack that’s nothing short of brutal for an opposing defender. There’s room for improvement—the J’s good but could use some work, and an extra 10 or 15 pounds wouldn’t hurt his lanky frame—but there’s no questioning his floor game. He may lack the hummingbird quickness of Bassy, D-Wash and the rest, but he knows he can counter those smaller cats with tricks of his own. “I’m pretty good with hesitations,” he says. “I play against a lot of guys that’s quicker than me, so I try to get ’em off their pace, change up the speed.”
Skills and the smarts to know how to use them—those qualities, along with terrific instincts and length that makes it impossible for most opposing guards to ever get a finger on his jumper, are why Livingston has long been one of the most coveted players in his class. As such, he essentially had his pick of schools, and as this issue went to press, he was on the verge of choosing between Arizona, Duke and in-state favorite Illinois.
For now, though, it’s all about home. About dreams of another state title, maybe even a perfect record and a national championship. About the legacy. About carrying the torch. Expansion. Peoria is always there.
It’s there when he talks about the tutelage of Frank Williams, the current Knicks backup and ’98 Mr. Basketball in the state of Illinois, who’s generally considered the nastiest of Peoria’s many nasty handlers. “I always credit Frank, going back to when he used to come up here and play,” Livingston says as he watches a pickup game on the outdoor courts across the street from the Carver Center. “I was always up here, and he took me to the side, played one-on-one with me, showed me stuff.” It’s there as he reveals his connection to each of the city’s high schools: Shaun grew up a Peoria Manual fan because Williams’ alma mater dominated the state in the mid ’90s, but he attended crosstown rival Richwoods for two years before transferring to Central. And it’s there when the local kids, who were mock-stepping to him just a few minutes earlier, crowd around like hungry hatchlings as he hands out some spare Rbk wristbands.
“There’s always guys that don’t want to see you make it and guys that’s gonna be jealous—I mean, there was probably a few guys that drove by and seen me taking pictures and be like, ‘Aw, he’s nothin’,’ you know what I mean?” Shaun reasons. “You’re always gonna have doubters. But the vibe here is mostly good.”
As we’re wrapping things up, Shaun asks if he can throw in some shout-outs. “Bridget, who did my hair—I promised her I’d try and mention her,” he says, referencing the tight ’rows tucked under his Jerry West-silhouette headband. “And my boy Booper, and AG from VA, and can you put in my godfather, Verdell Jones? I know I’m pushing it…” His parents get a mention, as does his grandfather, Frank Livingston, with whom he lives. You get the feeling Shaun would mention each of Peoria’s 100,000 or so residents by name if given the chance. The legacy is alive and well.
awwww man. That really, really sucks. Pulls at my heart, after reading about how hard he has worked to get back to his dream. Thoughts are with you, Shaun.
Harlem: No offense, but that’s crap. Shaun’s particular body was probably never going to be ready for the League — he’s just too frail, and college wouldn’t have done much to change that. It’s got nothing to do with HS kids in general, both because you seem to be forgetting LeBron, Amare, and a bunch of the HS-to-NBA guys who made it (and by definition, “a bunch” isn’t really an anomaly), AND because D.Stern has made sure it’s not an issue anyway.
I don’t give a damn if the dude was 50 pounds, kid could f*ckin ball his ass off. ugh. Dude could have been the next. But hey, it happens to the best of them.
@Ryan:Lebron and Amare had NBA ready bodys when they came in the league, Shaun didn’t and to say that college wouldn’t have possibly helped his body develop is ridiclous. I mean really Ryan, are you a doctor? Do you really know that “Shaun’s particular body was never gonna be ready for the league.” If you looked at M.J., Magic, Grant Hill, etc. as seniors in high school you would probably make the same assumption but you can’t tell me that they came in the league with the same body they started college with. It’s diffrent for everyone. If your body is already NBA ready like Lebron, Amare, Al Jefferson, etc. then go for it. If not, then hit the books and the weight room and make sure your ready. I know the situation is diffrent for everyone as in family and money and other variables but saying that the right college program wouldn’t have helped Shaun is just as shortsighted as the rules that don’t allow NBA ready kids to play NBA ball.
I agree with young B, you can’t say that college wouldn’t develop one’s body. KD gained around 20 pounds of muscle while he was at UT. I mean dude is still thin as a freakin rail but that one year in college helped him get his weight up a little. But there are so many ifs buts and maybes when it comes to high school kids that should have went to college. No one knows the future you just have to hope for the best and keep it rolling.
WALLACE! thats who he reminded me of. even more so now
I guess you guys think that college teams have better strength and nutrition programs than the NBA. Ludacrisp. Oh…. oh… no wait, I bet they just put him on the court without any sort of plan to help transition him from school to the pros. Oooh oooh! If he went to UNC, he could’ve gotten that tar heel magic, and thus make it so he could never get injured. Choosing Duke was Bobby Hurley’s downfall. Jay Williams too.
Well at least he has a college degree to fall back on. Or an enormous pile of money. Good luck Shaun.
To be honest, if he plays on a D-League level, it’s a miracle. When I saw that injury, I figured all his major nerves were gone along with everything else.
@Myles: I just hope ESPN isn’t doing one of those specials with him in 5 years where he is at the Rookie Camp telling kids, “Save your money, man. You don’t need 8 cars, I promise.” Hopefully dude is smarter than that. Actually hopefully he’ll keep working and make a comback after all.
@d.y.@ The NBA plays 82 games a season compared to the avg. college program playing 35 to 40 so there is def. alot more time to focus on body development and fundamentals in the offseason. In Shaun’s case, he had an amazing skill set, he just didn’t have the body to match. I just feel like a year or two at Illinois would have put a little more meat on his bones.
All this talk of building up his body seems a little meaningless, the dude blew out his knee, a joint, and from my experience following sport, no amount of muscle can do anything about stopping these freakish knee ligament injuries, some of the best physical specimens in the world can and do blow out knees, in every sport, every year. The dude just seems horribly unlucky.
How? How? Do they make the burgers bigger in college now? Offseason? You mean when they’re going to school? Saying that the best strength and conditioning program in all of collegiatica is more helpful than the worst pro program is like that old argument that the NCAA champ could beat the worst NBA team, or even make it competitive. It sounds good in our heads, but ask anyone who’s ever been involved, and they’ll laugh.
yeah and amare blew out BOTH knees and came back, so how does that work? its just the way things work out…. i feel bad for the guy, its not his fault
@D.Y.: The NBA is not a developmental focused league. It’s for players who are already ready to play. I understand that you are probably a big fan of players coming straight out of high school and so am I. I would just rather see the ones come in who are actually ready instead of every McDonald’s All-American with a greasy uncle/cousin/future agent/shoe rep in their ear telling them they are the next Kobe/Lebron/T-Mac/etc. And ask any player who is in the league and went to college whether they focus more on body development in college or the NBA. If they went to a half decent school I guarntee they will tell you college. When you get to the league they expect you to be ready to play in MOST cases. The players that do have dramatic physical changes their first few years in the L are the ones who dedicate themselves individually to do so and it happens in the offseason with a personal trainer.
@Matt: I’m not a doctor or anything but I’m pretty sure Amare and Shaun’s injuries are about as similar as Scott Skiles and Maurice Cheeks coaching styles.
B.Long, thanks for helping make my point for me — I was responding to the assertion that one really skinny kid’s injury meant all high school kids might not be NBA ready, which you seem to realize is patently false. Regarding Shaun, perhaps I overstated — I don’t KNOW that Livingston’s thin frame led to his injury, but I would bet money that going to college wouldn’t have made a difference — d.Y. has already stated that eloquently enough. I’m officially done pissing about this. Hopefully we can all agree that we wish Shaun well, and that the story I wrote about him was awesome.
@ Michael: You make a good point but at the same time who says that if he had added some muscle to his frame that he still falls down like that in the first place. I think it’s a combo of bad luck and body type. But yes, you are right it can happen to anyone. I just think its less likely with the right body structure.
jesus… it never really looked good for Shaun, but I was rooting for him. I feel bad for the guy.
Agree with everything B. Long says here
@Ryan: I remember reading this story and hoping he really would turn out to be the next Magic unlike the L.O. hype. I get your point now and I do hope that David Stern doesn’t try to make Shaun his little poster boy about his college rule because he really doesn’t apply in everyones case. Beasley didn’t really need college, Darrel Arthur did. And lets be honest, if by some gift from God, another player as physically and skillfully gifted as Lebron was when he came out of high school comes around and is forced to play college ball. It will actually be BAD for college ball. No one wants to watch a team win by 50 every game. Unless your a gawd awful Duke fan maybe.
RIP Shaun’s knee..if he’d put it all together,man the young dominant PG ceiling would’ve reached the stratosphere..If Ryan’s words are anything to go by,he was a skinny Magic..
@PP: yes he did have that potential. during the brief time he played, he showed flashes of brilliance on BOTH side of the court. dude’s skill set would have made him impossible to guard. i was rooting for him hard… time to break out the clipper curse again.
The Clippers should move to OKC. Not the Sonics.
Nothing says that something is awesome like having its creator wave it in your face.
Whatever happened to D-Wash and Frank Williams? I know D-Wash was on the Rockets for like half a minute. Is he D-leagueing it now?
He would’ve been the ultimate Triangle PG if he’d improved his marksmanship..Ball-hawk check,Post entry passing check..
PP, he was as good on the ball as anyone I’ve ever seen at the high school level. SO smooth, and as long as he was, he just made it hell for guys to try and check him one on one. Having a front-row seat to watch him and Bassy go head to head at ABCD Camp is one of my favorite memories from covering the prep scene.
Speaking of which, I was just on YouTube looking for any HS clips of him, and of course I stumbled across one showing his final injury with the Clips. At the end they showed a graphic of his NBA injury history, which seems to support my initially unsupported point about how frail Shaun was generally: He missed 39 games in ’04-05 due to that first knee injury, then another 12 games that season due to a shoulder injury. In ’05-06, he missed 21 games with a back injury. All that was before his left knee exploded. I am very much not a doctor, but it certainly seems like his body was not built for the rigors of professional basketball.
When it’s all said and done,I hope that atleast the financial rewards of his abruptly-shortened NBA career would offset atleast a little amount of the physical and emotional trauma of not being able to play the game he loves.God bless,Shaun.Hope you do the right thing.
6’7, 195 is not meant for a grown man’s game.
i’m gonna hold a candlelight vigil and observe a moment of silence for Shaun’s NBA career tonight before the game. oh yeah how come NO ONE has even mentioned that Game 3 is on tonight on ANY thread?
There is a game tonight?
according to nba.com, there is. but SLAM made no mention of it, so nba.com must be wrong.
freak injury, not concentrating- it could happen to any bball player
Detroit Shock vs. New York Liberty?
no no. it’s connecticut sun vs. dallas something. wait does dallas have a team? it’s the Stars right?
… why would you know?
Maybe the rumor is false.
All that hard work to get to the NBA and now its over, brings a tear to my eye.
A man tear ofcorse, and sorry for the double post.
TADOne: Richard Hamilton is 6’7″, 193.
Pingback: Is Shaun Livingston Done Forever? | top sport blogs
@ Tommy: He got that “wirey” build though. Shaun had that “toothpick” build. And I’d probably call Rip 6’5″ in reality.
i saw that play. hes lucky if he can still walk. one of those times youre reminded modern athletes getting paid can be a good thing, like this.
hmm.. I’m thinking about Timmy Hardaway, Danny Manning and BIG Z. If body type-training-access to health services is anything to go by, he could be back in some form…. If it came down to a busted up 23 year old Livingston or a “healthy” 37 year old Allan Houston, give me the young kid and a wheel chair. 3 times out of 4.
wen i seen his highschool tape i thought he was greezy and i knew he cud eventualy transform it to the nba but then this happened
i wish u luck doggie
© 2013 Source Interlink Magazines, LLC, All rights reserved.