Shaun Livingston has played for eight NBA teams since 2009, but he’s probably happy he settled on Golden State this season.
Livingston, who signed a three-year, $16.6 million contract last July, possibly could have gotten more money – or at least more playing time – elsewhere, but he simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
“It’s been great,” Livingston said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “But it’s also been a sacrifice in a sense. I think us as a team, certain players, we’ve had to sacrifice a little bit in order for the greater good. It’s definitely hard to do, but now looking at it with a chance to win the world championship and the NBA Finals, we can definitely say it’s worth it.”
Livingston played for a first-year head coach in Jason Kidd in Brooklyn in 2013-14, and he’s playing for a first-year head coach in Steve Kerr this season. Both experiences have been enjoyable, especially playing for Kerr.
“It starts with communication, honesty,” Livingston said. “People respect others that are honest with them, tell the truth. You may not like it. You may not like it at first. It may be tough to grasp, tough to take in. But at the end of the day . . . you respect it. I think with him, he’s been honest since day one. He’s come in. He’s communicated with guys individually and to us as a team, so I think that’s very important just with guys understanding and knowing their roles on a basketball team.”
As for the aforementioned Curry, well, Livingston has never seen someone so good at creating his own jump shot.
“No, not off the dribble,” Livingston said. “The closest thing was probably Kobe. The type of shots that he used to take – just where you game plan for him, but he would always have the option to counter and he’d go into maybe a fadeaway or something off the bounce or off the dribble. But those were shots he kind of practiced. I think with Steph, him always having the range helps. He’s always a really good shooter. He turned into a great shooter with confidence in the NBA by him evolving. I think Mark Jackson was good for him last year, to be able to work on his individual game, his one-on-one, his (shot) off the bounce. Now he has that. And you put that with the combination of our offense – spacing, cutting, moving – that becomes even more lethal. That’s what you’ve seen this year with Steph.”
Interestingly enough, Livingston played in Cleveland in 2012-13 – the year LeBron James won a championship in Miami.
“He’s a game-changer,” Livingston said. “His experience, his level of play and just kind of his name, his status – obviously guys are going to lock in and want to play with him. But he makes guys better. That’s what he does. That’s kind of what separates him. His athleticism and strength separates . . . his game from other players, but as far as his elite status, his (ability) to make guys better – in a sense he’s more like Magic than Jordan because he makes guys better. He’s able to pass and find guys and read guys.”
The Warriors went 1-1 against the Cavaliers in the regular season, but James didn’t play in Golden State’s win. Still, the Warriors aren’t putting much stock in either result.
“We’re both different teams,” Livingston said. “It’s the Finals. It’s June. That was months and months ago. We’re different teams. All that stuff really doesn’t matter.”
Livingston is speaking from experience. His Nets swept the Heat in the regular season last year but lost in the conference semis in five games.
“When it comes down to regular season, it doesn’t matter come playoffs,” Livingston said. “It doesn’t matter in this series. They’re playing well. We’re going to have to lock into our game plan, but we know what we’re capable of as well. We’re playing well and we earned this spot. We’re ready.”