Shaun Livingston needed only one word to adequately describe his emotions for his latest and perhaps last significant opportunity in the NBA.
"Anytime you get blessed with an opportunity, you’ve got to be thankful, especially given my history of opportunities and downfalls with injuries,” Livingston said. "So obviously I don’t take it for granted. But I’m ambitious as well. I want to go out here and really show the staff what I can bring to the table.”
Livingston has at least until the end of the month to prove his worth. The 6-foot-7 point guard is next in line to audition while opening-night backup Kevin Ollie recovers from right knee surgery. Mike Wilks was signed on Nov. 26 to provide emergency minutes. But after playing four straight games, it was Livingston who got the nod Monday against Golden State.
Livingston looked solid against the Warriors, showing few signs of rust while playing under control and running the team for 18 minutes. He went scoreless, taking only one shot, but pulled down seven rebounds and had three assists and two steals.
"I’m just trying to be solid and get my rhythm back,” Livingston said. "You’ve got to know your game. It’s not like I put up 20 and 30 points when I went down. I got other guys shots and helped my team play together. So I’m just trying to find my way on this team.”
Before Monday’s game, Livingston had played in only three games, tallying a meager 25 minutes. Swelling set in on his surgically repaired left knee, forcing Livingston to undergo an arthroscopic procedure to remove staples put in during his original reconstructive surgery in 2007.
Livingston was expected to miss three to four weeks. He returned in two.
Only now is Livingston ready to return to the court and demonstrate that he’s healthy enough to contribute.
"If you saw him in practice, you wouldn’t think he had surgery, honestly,” said Kevin Durant.