Warriors

Shaun Livingston fought back to his dream, but it was time to say goodbye

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AP

Shaun Livingston fought back to his dream, but it was time to say goodbye

Shaun Livingston spent a full year stealing glances at his hazy future, and the last three months he simply stared into it. Not until this week, though, did he have clear visibility.

His heart was whispering, urging him to play another year. In the NBA. Only the NBA.

His mind was doubting, questioning whether he had it in him.

His body? Well, it was barking and shouting, more than 12 years of agony and aches and constant maintenance blistering his ear and begging him to let it go, to devote himself for labors much less demanding than that of another eight or nine months and finally accept the life he knows is waiting.

So, on Friday, one day after his 34th birthday, with family and friends and folks in the media seeking resolution, Livingston took to Instagram to announce he was retiring.

His final season was a slog, as signs of physical decline surfaced. His lateral quickness was diminishing, hurting his defense. His offense came and went, fine one night and absent on another. His pregame routine required extended therapy, and still, he needed additional rest. He was one of the early examples of a load management program.

“It’s getting harder,” Livingston conceded after a shootaround in March in Houston. “The aches linger a little longer, but I’m still enjoying it. Can’t say that my body always does.”

It was after some postseason reflection and listening to his mind and body, and following both, that he was able to put a bow on a career once so dramatically altered there was rational fear it would end at the profoundly unfair age of 21.

Livingston, who spent 14 seasons in the NBA, walks away after the five best years of his career. He was a valuable reserve on a Warriors team that won three championships and made five consecutive trips to The Finals. After an eight-team journey during which he never spent more than three years with one employer, he landed on the free-agent market for the umpteenth time and found the Warriors in July 2014.

He signed a three-year contract and by its conclusion was calling Oakland “home.” After resurrecting and stabilizing his career, he became a free agent in 2017. Not for a moment did he consider shopping for a bigger role or a bigger contract with another team.

Minutes into free agency, Livingston agreed to re-sign with the Warriors. And when I texted him to ask why he didn’t consider going back on the market, his response spoke volumes.

“Can’t put a price on happiness.”

He was thrilled to finally find a successful franchise that understood his physical challenges and used him properly. Playing behind All-Stars Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, Livingston’s minutes were monitored. It became evident he produced best – and was most durable – when restricted to about 18 minutes per game. He could, in a pinch, go beyond that, but he’d feel it the next day.

His steady leadership was of value. Livingston and fellow Illinois native Andre Iguodala were the twins of wisdom in a locker room that ran the gamut of personalities. Iguodala, with his unflinching wit, could play “bad cop.” Livingston, with his breezy manner and unique perspective, was the “good cop.”

Now both are gone. Iguodala traded to the Memphis Grizzlies, Livingston opting to hang up his jersey.

Ten years earlier, Livingston began his career with hopes of becoming a transformational star. A 6-foot-7 point guard entering the NBA out of Peoria, Ill. at age 18, drafted fourth overall by the Los Angeles Clippers, his game had elements of Penny Hardaway, Magic Johnson and, in today’s game, midrange scoring ace DeMar DeRozan.

[RELATED: Five most memorable moment from Livingston's Warriors career]

The most dazzling elements of Livingston’s game perished on the Staples Center floor in February 2007 with a devastating injury to his left knee. He sustained tears to his ACL, MCL, PCL and lateral meniscus, along with a dislocated knee cap and a broken tibia and fibula. So demolished was his left leg, there briefly was fear amputation might be necessary.

Livingston fought back and forced his way back into his dream. It was never better than in the last five years, which surely made his decision a little easier.

It was time to go. It just took a few months to say goodbye.

Nets players free of coronavirus symptoms, but Kevin Durant might be delayed

Nets players free of coronavirus symptoms, but Kevin Durant might be delayed

Good news. The four Brooklyn Nets players who had tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) are now free from symptoms.

Nets general manager Sean Marks announced Wednesday during a conference call with reporters that all members of Brooklyn's traveling party had completed a two-week quarantine. Even so, they will continue to abide by social-distancing guidelines.

"As it pertains to the team," Marks said (via ESPN's Malika Andrews), "I sense -- like all of us, like the rest of New York and really the rest of the globe -- we're trying to deal with this as best we can."

The Nets were scheduled to face the Warriors at Chase Center in front of no fans on March 12, but the NBA indefinitely suspended the season the previous night after two Utah Jazz players became the first in the NBA to test positive for the coronavirus. Upon returning to Brooklyn from San Francisco, the Nets paid a private company to test the team for COVID-19, which revealed that four players had tested positive.

Of those four players, three were asymptomatic. According to Marks, however, the lone player exhibiting symptoms has since recovered.

Former Warrior Kevin Durant admitted he was one of the four Nets to test positive for the coronavirus. He hadn't played all season while recovering from a torn Achilles, and was already ruled out for the duration of the 2019-20 campaign. While Durant might have some extra time on his hands these days, it's possible that the season being indefinitely paused could delay his return to game action.

The same goes for Brooklyn point guard Kyrie Irving, who underwent shoulder surgery on March 3. Though they are able to continue their respective rehabilitations, they obviously don't have access to the practice facility, which could slow the process.

"I couldn't give an answer on when they'll play this season," Marks said. "I don't think it's fair to those athletes nor the performance team to put a timeline on it. I think everyone is dealing with bigger, far more pressing things."

[RELATED: Steph had to assemble hoop Ayesha ordered in quarantine]

Marks insisted he would have a better idea of each player's respective timeline in another three weeks to a month, when he hopes to have more clarification about the NBA's plans to resume the season.

Of course, there's no guarantee that will happen, either.

Steph Curry explains how he's above average in 'Tour de Warriors' race

Steph Curry explains how he's above average in 'Tour de Warriors' race

Warriors players can't go to Chase Center to work on their game while the NBA season is indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

They can't use the team facilities to ride the bike, or hop on the treadmill or use the elliptical.

And not everybody has exercise equipment at home.

But those who do have been able to work out together ...

... virtually.

Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal has the details:

(Steph Curry) does have a Peloton bike at home. As it turns out, he’s not the only one: The Warriors have been going for a group ride in the morning.

The invitation goes out on a Slack group -- Curry admits to skipping one class because he didn’t see the message -- and then a maniacally competitive bicyclist named Draymond Green attempts to destroy everyone around him, according to a person familiar with the rides.

“In the Tour de Warriors,” Curry said, “I’m above average, but I’m not on the podium yet. I have to figure out how to get there. There’s always something to shoot for.”

It's not a surprise to hear that Draymond is competitive during these sessions, as he has been a regular at SoulCycle for quite some time.

[RELATED: Steph had to assemble hoop Ayesha ordered in quarantine]

“You walk out feeling sweaty, feeling good like you got a workout in, but it doesn’t put much strain on the body," the three-time NBA champion told NBC Sports Bay Area's Kerith Burke about one year ago. "Sometimes it’s good to get away from the game of basketball or the typical weight room.

“You’re working out with a different group of people, you’re all on rhythm, trying to stay on the beat with each other. When you add music to a workout, it’s fun. I do it a lot with my fiancée, and we have a good time. We sit next to each other. She’s really good at it.”

As for Steph -- knowing how competitive he is, don't be surprised if we learn that he wins the "Tour de Warriors" on the regular very soon.

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