Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Shaun Livingston: It's Not Your Fault

Shaun Livingston, you remember the 2004 NBA Draft. It was the best day of your professional basketball career. Things were great back then. You were fresh out of Peoria Central High School. You were going to be a multi-millionaire playing a game you love. When NBA commissioner, David Stern called your name on draft night, it was official -- your dream came true. The LA Clippers loved your potential so much they selected you fourth overall ahead of players such as Devin Harris, Al Jefferson, Andre Iguodala, Josh Smith, J.R. Smith, Jameer Nelson, Kevin Martin, Luol Deng and Andris Biedrins.

Oh man, what were the Clippers thinking!????

Anyway, you would go on to show flashes of brilliance here and there but your career would be devastated by injuries. Infact, over your first three seasons, you would miss 101 games due to a variety of ailments. But, the most horrific injury of them all occurred on February 26th 2007 when you missed a layup then awkwardly landed and gruesomely destroyed your knee against the Bobcats.
Just like that, your career was mashed up like your left knee. The gamble former Clippers GM, Elgin Baylor and his staff took blew up in their face. But, it was the Clips, so you wouldn't expect anything else, right?
After missing the entire 2007-08 season, Livingston was fit enough to make a comeback. Give him credit, he didn't quit. The young guard made his way onto the Miami Heat. It was a feel good story. So, maybe this kid wouldn't end up like Jay Williams after suffering a rough injury. Alas, Shaun would only play 4 games before the Heat released then traded him to Memphis on Wednesday. Apparently, he was let go not because of his health, but it was actually a salary cap/luxury tax issue. Regardless, if that wasn't bad enough, the Grizzlies waived him.

So, is it Livingston's fault Baylor and the Clippers front office overvalued his talent in the first place? Is it Livingston's fault physically he was too fragile to play in the NBA? I say no. The Clippers had a chance to pick some great talent in 2004, but for some reason Shaun's 6 foot 7 string bean frame really attracted them.

You can't blame Livingston for entering the draft after high school to hopefully strike it rich because if NBA teams were saying you had great potential and they were willing to pay you millions for it, you'd take that opportunity in a heartbeat.

Personally, the Clippers put him in a tough situation because they not only poorly evaluated his skill level and ability to withstand the rigors and physical punishment of an NBA season, but they also overhyped him to a point where the expectations were just too high. Come on, this kid was never going to be a Magic Johnson or a Jason Kidd. But, the Clippers hoped he would.

Regardless, Shaun seems like a good guy. I wish him the best. Remember, he's only 23 years old. So, he still has time to get another shot with an NBA squad.

As for Baylor, I hope he stays out of the GM business forever. I just want to remember him as the all-star talent he was during his outstanding playing career. Is that too much to ask?

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