Warriors’ Livingston sets sights on Opening Day

OAKLAND — In an attempt to lighten the load of Stephen Curry, the Warriors’ biggest offseason addition came in the form of  6-foot-7 point guard Shaun Livingston.

Knowledge and wisdom from a 10-year NBA career are one thing, but Livingston is bringing a unique experience to the Warriors roster.

Last season Livingston played for the Brooklyn Nets under Jason Kidd in his first year as a head coach, which gives the veteran guard the freshest perspective when it comes to playing for a rookie coach.

Livingston said there were a lot of things that attracted him to Golden State: the team’s recent success, the excitement surrounding a young team that is able to compete in the loaded Western Conference, competitive nature, and Head Coach Steve Kerr:

“They are one of the teams I think can compete for a championship, and you know Kerr is a very respected basketball mind. He is a rookie, but I played for a rookie head coach last year with Jason Kidd, so similar situations for me. I’m just looking to build on the year I had last year.”

For Livingston, the Warriors provide a platform where he can do just that. But right now, all of the buzz and excitement is all on paper, something Livingston is no stranger to.

Livingston told SFBay in his experience its just about getting on the court because everything up to the first day is just hearsay:

“I mean everything sounds great and sexy the first day, its like a first date, where everything seems good. But getting out there and working out the kinks, playing through the dry spells, figuring out each other and playing through the bumps in the road, that’s what’s going to ultimately build this team and shape our character.”

Livingston is one of the guys that has to figure out the kinks. New to the team and recovering from toe surgery, he faces his own set of bumps in the road.

Kerr told SFBay that he hasn’t had conversations with Livingston about his time with a rookie coach but that he sees the value the experience brings and looks forward to the advice he can impart on the coaching staff. He went on to emphasize the many reasons the Warriors pursued Livingston in the offseason:

“He’s a leader and he’s unbelievably mature. He’s seen it all and been through a near amputation of his leg and come back. Just the resilience and the motivation that he’s got within is inspiring.”

Inspiring indeed. On Feb. 26, 2007, Livingston suffered one of the most gruesome injuries the NBA has seen. Landing awkwardly, he tore nearly every ligament in his knee forcing his leg to snap backwards. After being told amputation was a possibility, he spent over a year and a half rehabbing before returning to the game.

In comparison, sitting out six to eight weeks for toe surgery is a minor setback, and Livingston see’s it as just that. He said he’s much more concerned with creating chemistry and finding a rhythm with his new teammates:

“It’s always tough in the beginning, but you kind of just figure it out. It’s such a long season, it’s not a sprint its a marathon. Maybe we stumble out of the gate, you never know. Everyone starts out with the same record but the biggest thing for us to do is to trust each other. When it gets tough that’s what we have to keep us going and rely on, trust and commitment.”

So far, Livingston said he trusts Kerr fully and he notices similarities in the way Kidd and Kerr approach coaching from a cerebral place. Livingston also said he can’t wait to work more with assistant coaches Alvin Gentry and Ron Adams, who Livingston had experience working with in Oklahoma City.

Though Livingston said he would love to get some on-court action during the preseason, Kerr told SFBay it looks doubtful. With that, Livingston is keeping his focus on being ready when it counts:

“My personal goal is to be ready for opening day.”


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