Shaun Livingston has had a good, long NBA career, winning three titles with the Warriors and spending 14 years as a contributor to 10 different franchises.
But he is thinking it may be time to hang it up.
“It’s just all the signs on the wall,” Livingston told The Athletic in an extensive Q & A session. “And just more so from a physical standpoint. If I’m healthy and having fun, then I want to play. But physically, if I’m not … Like, I put so much work in my body just to get back to playing basketball, let alone get to this point where I’m at. So now that it’s getting harder. Like this year, I’ve struggled with injuries more than any other year I’ve been on the Warriors.”
Unfortunately for Livingston, he may be best known for getting hurt. He suffered a gruesome knee injury as a 21 year old with the Clippers, which nearly put an end to his career altogether.
Livingston fractured his patella and tore three ligaments in a 2007 matchup with Charlotte and could have lost his leg. He missed nearly 20 months recovering and went from a bright young prospect to a player simply trying to contribute in any way he could to a number of teams.
And he has played for a lot of them, spending five years in Golden State, three with the Clippers, two with the Wizards and Thunder and at least parts of one each with the Rockets, Nets, Bucks, Cavaliers, Heat and Charlotte.
He has never been the type of impact player who made an All-Star team or an All-NBA roster, but he has always been a contributor in some way, averaging 11 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds in his career. But at this point, the gruesome knee injury is fully catching up with him.
“Any time it gets swollen now, it’s more about being able to move,” he said. “It’s stiff. I can’t move. It’s sore. I come back, it’s aching. And this is all before the game even starts.
“So then it becomes about building myself up so I can be functional on the court. Once I get to the arena, I got to do all this work. And it’s fine. Because it’s part of your job that you have to do. But the emotional part of it, at this stage of my career, it can be tough. Like, at 22, yeah, all right, I knew I had to grind. It was part of what came with it. But now, at this stage, it’s like … shoot.”
Livingston has not made a decision whether this will be his final year or not. It has crossed his mind when he goes to certain arenas this could be the last time he steps foot on those courts, but nothing is definitive.
But, for the 2004 No. 4 overall pick, he can see the writing on the wall. He has had a long, and in some ways, grueling career and he’s put his body through a lot. But, when all is said and done, he is a three-time NBA champion and has a chance of getting to the NBA Finals for the fifth year in a row this season with Golden State, which hasn’t been done since the Celtics did it in the 60s. If he were to retire now, he has done more than enough to say he had a successful career and to finish it with the Warriors may be perfect for him.
“I tell people this, especially the young guys, Golden State, this is like basketball nirvana,” Livingston said. “The opportunity to play for this organization, live in the Bay Area, great fans, great ownership, committed to winning, coach that knows what he’s doing and superstars that are selfless. We have a great situation. So going to another organization at this point? It doesn’t sound like the greatest thing to do.”