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Former Net Shaun Livingston glad to play role in NBA Finals

Shaun Livingston of the Golden State Warriors warms

Shaun Livingston of the Golden State Warriors warms up before taking on the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 27, 2015 in Oakland, Calif. Credit: Getty Images / Thearon W. Henderson

OAKLAND, Calif. - All Shaun Livingston wanted was another chance at a pro basketball career, one more shot to make sure the memory of his gruesome 2007 leg injury wasn't the way people remembered him.

Imagine the vibe engulfing him at the moment as the Warriors guard and former Net does his thing in his first NBA Finals, stepping onto the national stage in a way he probably never thought in his wildest dreams.

"Man, in a sense nobody appreciates this moment more than me, coming from where I came from -- my journey, road," Livingston said in a chat with Newsday. "So I want this bad. But I'm grateful for the opportunity and just trying to make the most of it."

Naturally, Golden State's Splash Brothers -- aka Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson -- garner most of the attention. Draymond Green also has chiseled off some spotlight.

But Livingston has been a key part of Golden State's trek to the Finals, doing plenty of things that go unnoticed.

"He's such a unique player the way he can impact games," Curry said. "He allows me and Klay to play off the ball. He takes obviously the ballhandling responsibilities. We can run plays through him through the post. Lot of point guards aren't used to guarding guys of his size on the post on the block, so he can definitely make plays down there and we can work around him. He obviously has great court vision, so the ball starts to hop and starts to move."

"When he grabs rebounds and pushes in transition, when you have shooters that are able to run around him and he can be a slasher and a playmaker, we're tough to stop. So I know Coach [Steve Kerr] loves to put that lineup out there in certain spots of the game to kind of open up the tempo and get us to push the ball. I think we present a lot of problems with that lineup."

Livingston enjoyed a renaissance in his lone campaign with the Nets last year, cashing it into a three-year, $16-million pact in the offseason. A career high in games played (76) and starts (54), paired with his body holding up and the exposure he generated in the Nets' postseason run, put him on the radar of Warriors coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers.

Golden State offered him the most money and also provided him with the best opportunity.

"It's been a great year, but it's also been a trying year in a sense that you have to be patient," Livingston said, "because having a bigger role last year and then having to come and have a smaller role, individually you want to do great. You want to have all this production. You want to have all these minutes and when it's not there, you've got to still stay with it."

"[It's about] trying to come in and trying to spell Steph in games when he's not rolling, getting him rest, using our depth to where the better I do, the better it is for him, for his body, rest, all that."

Livingston is fully aware the best aspects of his game usually don't show up in the boxscores and said it's something he's come to grips with. He's fine with it, too. "It's not always about scoring points with me," he said. "Everybody else is like, 'Oh, how many points did you score?' "

This is a guy who, after shattering his left leg and kneecap, got waived five times, was traded on three occasions and had a stint in the D-League. Playing a part in bringing Golden State its first title since 1975 would only further reward his faith.

"I just can't really put a value on it, a price tag," Livingston said. "What it does to this city, what it does to my hometown and for my journey, man, it would mean everything, just everything that I've worked for. Just to see it pay off and for me to have a role in that, it'd mean everything."

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