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Shaun Livingston.

Shaun Livingston: The point guard who takes absolutely nothing for granted

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The Golden State Warriors are in the midst of a huge Western Conference Finals battle that will go a long way to deciding their future as a dynasty. Their series with the Oklahoma City Thunder is tied at 1-1 and hangs in the balance ahead of game three.

Legacy and dynasty are two words that have been bounded about all year as the defending champions recorded an NBA-best 73-win season to establish themselves as the most dominant regular season franchise ever. However, failing to lift the Larry O'Brien trophy in June will severely change the outlook of their achievements so far in 2015/16.

But behind their pursuit of further glory, there is a story of grit, determination, and pure will that encapsulates everything professional sport is about.

Playing second fiddle to the all-conquering, first-ever unanimous MVP Stephen Curry is a certain Shaun Livingston. A man who has been through hell and back during his career and has found his place as one of the Warriors' talented supporting cast.

Along with the likes of Andre Iguodala and Festus Ezeli - who also begin the majority of games on the pine - they all have the ability to be starting players with other organisations, but, for one reason or another - mainly team harmony and a shot at glory - they are happy to play their part in the Bay.

The backup point guard has settled into life in Oakland and, for him, every day stepping out onto the hardwood is a blessing following a horrific injury in 2007 that threatened his livelihood and, for a brief period, left him facing the possibility of potentially losing his leg.

Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors - Game One

It is easy to forget that Livingston was a top five draft pick - in fact, he was chosen fourth by the L.A. Clippers in 2004. His career has hardly been that of a high-end selection. During his first three years in the City of Angels, he played second fiddle behind the likes of Marko Jaric, Rick Brunson, and Sam Cassell before establishing himself as starting player in 2006/07.

However, an injury against the Charlotte Bobcats saw his world come crashing down around him as he tore the anterior cruciate ligament and the posterior cruciate ligament, along with his lateral meniscus while badly spraining his medial collateral ligament, and dislocating his patella and his tibiofibular joint. In short, his knee was in a thousand pieces.

After a long recovery process that required months of rehabilitation before he could walk again, he spent time floating around the league without really finding a home. Spells with Miami, Oklahoma City, Washington, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Washington, Cleveland, and Brooklyn were short-lived before he made his way to the Bay.

Charlotte Bobcats v Los Angeles Clippers

Playing backup may not have been the way a fourth pick envisioned his career panning out, but given the circumstances, finding a settled environment and picking up a championship ring put everything into context.

His numbers have been far from spectacular, but they haven't had to be. When you're on a team with the sharpshooting Curry and his 'Splash Brother' Klay Thompson, major contributions are rarely needed. But like every member of the Warriors' stacked lineup, he plays his part.

He offers a different threat to Curry with his gangly frame at the point, favouring a drive to the basket as opposed to the three-point shot that is so popular at the Oracle. His keen eye for a pass should not be underestimated either. Livingston is arguably the best backup PG in the league and showed his true class in the absence of Steph.

US-POLITICS-NBA-WARRIORS

Starting seven of the Warriors' 12 games in the postseason so far, he has averaged 9.8 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 50.5 percent from the field, the 30-year-old helped fill the void left by the reigning MVP as Golden State advanced past the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers.

Steve Kerr has found a gem of a backup in Livingston. When he replaces Curry, the Warriors are in good hands. And for the man himself, well, every second on the court is a blessing in its own right. A shot at back-to-back titles would've seemed a million miles away during those long, hard months of rehabilitation.

Topics:
NBA
Stephen Curry
Golden State Warriors
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Shaun Livingston

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