There were legends running the floor at Friday night’s Heat-Nets game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, easily identified even with just nicknames on the backs of their jerseys.
King James. Shuttlesworth. Truth. KG.
But the one who stole the show?
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Who, you ask?
That would be Shaun Livingston. The Nets guard, with his eighth team in nine seasons, had two baskets and two blocked shots in the second overtime of Brooklyn’s 104-95 win, finishing with 19 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and five assists over 51 minutes in starting for injured Deron Williams.
He had this highlight dunk off a sweet spin move in the second OT…
… and drew a charge that fouled out LeBron James in the first OT.
“I was just trying to make him uncomfortable,” Livingston told ESPNNewYork.com. “He’s a rhythm player. He’s obviously one of the best players in the league, he can get to any spot on the court, pull up, shoot the 3. He can do it all. In that situation, he had been going to the rim, so I was just trying to bait him into driving and really trying to beat him to the spot.”
Before Michael Carter-Williams, Livingston was the tantalizing 6-foot-7 point guard prospect drafted No. 4 overall by the Clippers in 2004, and he helped the team to its first-ever playoff series victory in 2006. He was having a breakout third season when this happened:
Shaun Livingston grimaces after dislocating his knee in a Feb. 26, 2007 game.
Livingston dislocated his left kneecap while landing on the floor and wrecked his knee. He never played another game for the Clippers and didn’t return to the NBA until the 2008-09 season. He bounced around the league before signing a one-year deal with Brooklyn for the veteran’s minimum.
“I’ve been in some rough places, especially after my injury, but that’s a long time ago," he told ESPNNY. "And there were a lot of different thoughts, but those doubts kind of turned to faith. My family, everybody that’s been in my corner, God, it’s brought me a long way.”
Still just 28, Livingston looked like his old self Friday night, his 6-foot-11 wingspan felt on both ends of the floor, and the star-laden Nets followed his lead. He’s averaging 11.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.2 blocks, 2.0 steals and 1.2 blocks in 37.6 minutes during the Nets’ 5-0 start to 2014.
“Everybody on this team knows his journey,” teammate Kevin Garnett told ESPNNY. “Everybody on this team, other than probably [rookie] Mason [Plumlee], everybody is familiar with his story. Couldn’t have happened to a better dude, a better individual. I see him work every day and I’m very proud to be his teammate. I’m glad things are turning for him. I’m happy for him. We’re all happy for him.”