February 27, 2007

Livingston's Last Dance

Clippers’ TV announcer Ralph Lawler has a tendency to air on the side of irreverent, but as he narrated the replay of Shaun Livingston’s ill-fated lay-up attempt on Monday night, his voice seemed to be as grave as it can possibly get.

“If you’re a little squeamish, you might not want to see this,” Lawler says.

As the replay shows Livingston leaving the floor, Lawler's partner, Mike Smith, cuts in and says: “It’s gotta be when he lands.”

And then, as Livingston hits the floor, you hear Lawler’s voice come back, a jumbled mess of monosyllabic utterances: “Oh yeah, oh oh dear me… oh yes… oh dear.” (Okay, on paper these look like the words of a man who might be spending an afternoon in a shady massage parlor, but rest assured that Lawler truly sounds distressed.)

After Livingston lands, and is lying there on the ground, Lawler’s words say everything: “Yeah, and there’s no kneecap there if you noticed.”

In case you missed it – and it seems like it would be difficult to do so considering that this story is getting a large amount of attention even from non-NBA fans – on Monday night against Charlotte, Shaun Livingston conjured memories of Joe Theismann, Napoleon McCallum and Moises Alou circa 1993 with as gruesome a sports injury as you’ll see – a dislocated left knee that occurred when he landed awkwardly after a lay-up attempt in the first quarter.

The term “dislocated left knee” doesn't really do it justice – when Livingston hit the floor, his leg went completely gummy, flopping around and turning in directions a limb should never turn, as if it were a pant leg stuffed with cotton on some poorly put-together stunt dummy.

And yeah, we try to keep everything in perspective around these parts as much as we can, and though this is just one leg injury to one athlete, it’s hard not to feel bad for the kid. (And yes, unlike Ime Udoka, Shaun Livingston is only a kid – he just turned 21 in September.

Now, it seems pretty likely that his career, if not completely over, has been dismantled. Remember Patriots’ running back Robert Edwards? After a great rookie year in 1998, he dislocated his knee playing flag football and was essentially done – he re-appeared in the NFL in 2002 but wasn’t the same player.

On Saturday night, Shaun Livingston tied his career-high with 14 assists. Now the word “career” has a much more tenuous meaning.

Bad stuff happens all the time in sports. But something about this freak injury robbing Livingston of his livelihood seems particularly tough to handle.

Just so happens that The OCC has a rec league hoops game this evening. Has it crossed our mind that a crazy sports accident could happen to us sometime too? Absolutely. Will that adversely affect the way we play? Not tonight.

Tonight, we go at the rim full speed.


Post a Comment

<< Home