Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Exorcist

It happened in L.A., at Staples Center, at 8:23pm Pacific Time, 11:23 pm Eastern.

Just over two years after sustaining one of the most gruesome injuries in NBA history, Shaun Livingston, now a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, returned to the scene of what must have been the worst night of his basketball life, and with a single play, showed that he still has a future as an NBA player.

Midway through the second quarter of what would ultimately be a blowout win over the hapless Clippers, as the Thunder got the ball to Earl Watson on the fast break, Shaun Livingston hit the gas, raced down the left wing, and ran to the hoop. Watson, with no regard for the massive amount of surgery Livingston’s knee has endured, threw him an alley-oop pass, a pass that looked like it might be too high, certainly for a guy with a reconstructed knee. It was as though Watson was daring Livingston to believe that his knee would hold up. And did it ever!

Not only did Livingston take off like he believed his knee would hold up, he went up, way up, got the ball with one hand, and threw down a beautiful dunk! Congratulations, Shaun! I was watching in February 2007 against the Charlotte Bobcats, and it broke my heart. I watched you return to L.A., and exorcise the demons. I’ve been pulling for you, and for this moment ever since then.

For about five minutes after seeing that play, I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face, and seeing the grin on Shaun Livingston’s face, as he celebrated a moment that he undoubtedly feared would never arrive, I realized that these are the underrated moments that make sports great.

Welcome back, Shaun!

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