CLEVELAND - It was hard for him to keep still for a nanosecond once the celebration officially began, almost as if he had box springs affixed to his Nikes and had vacuumed in a can of one of those energy drinks.
Shaun Livingston had an unmistakable spirit permeating throughout his 6-7 frame, barely burning any of it off during the flurry of congratulatory bear hugs with teammates, family members, friends and general well-wishers thrilled he experienced that special moment. Of all the Warriors nearly bursting through their champagne-soaked blue uniforms with pride, Livingston probably appreciated the euphoria of winning an NBA title most, given his long, winding path back to being a key player again following his devastating, nearly career-ending leg injury in 2007.
Only moments earlier, he was up on the podium sitting next to Draymond Green after Golden State's 105-97 victory over the Cavaliers in Game 6 Tuesday night, a triumph that propelled the Warriors to a 4-2 Finals series win. Livingston explained how it was, in a sense, as if he had gone through a pair of transformations before arriving at his present state. But as Livingston, 29, delved further into his mind on the way back to the Warriors' celebratory locker room inside Quicken Loans Arena, he altered that number slightly.
"Three, really," Livingston told Newsday. "Three. I feel like I've lived three lives."
The first came in Los Angeles with the Clippers, when he burst onto the scene as the No. 4 draft pick in 2004 with athleticism, explosiveness and court vision. The second centered around his comeback from shattering his left leg and kneecap, when he was waived on five occasions, traded three times and fought his way into the NBA again through the D-League. He played on a series of 10-day contracts, non-guaranteed deals and one-year agreements.
Now, with a championship in his pocket and the security of a three-year, $16-million contract he inked as a free agent with Golden State after a rejuvenating 2013-14 season with the Nets, Livingston really is living the life after reaching the pinnacle of the sport.
Engineering the Warriors' second unit. Spearheading fast-break opportunities. Guarding the likes of four-time MVP and two-time Finals MVP LeBron James. Coming up with timely buckets using his renewed quickness.
Livingston left his fingerprints all over Golden State's Finals run.
"Shaun Livingston has come back from a horrific injury, and I've been knowing him since we were 10, 11 years old," Finals MVP Andre Iguodala said. "So, I know he's got that basketball blood in him."
Livingston said he "absolutely" thinks the Warriors have what it takes to be the top dog in the brutally competitive Western Conference again next season. He believes they still will have all the necessary tools to defend their crown, finding themselves in a position where they can each draw from this newfound championship experience.
But there are a few things on tap before then, beginning with Friday's parade through the streets of Oakland that diehards have been aching for since the franchise's last crown in 1975.
"To be here as a world champion with my brothers, man, it's a loss for words," Livingston said. "You can't put that in words. I'm just grateful. Grateful to God, grateful to coach [Steve Kerr], my teammates and I'm just thankful to be here. It's been such a long journey. To be here now as a world champion, it's the greatest feeling in the world. It makes the journey worth it. It's sweet."