BROOKLYN— By LENN ROBBINS – You would be hard pressed to find another player in the NBA that is reading Siddhartha, the Hermann Hesse novel about the spiritual journey of self-discovery by a young man.
But Shaun Livingston is like no other player in the NBA.
He is the only player in the league to have come back from a knee injury so devastating doctors initially thought they might have to amputate his leg.
But there is a depth to Livingston that also sets him apart. He has taken a seminar in broadcasting, a leadership forum, a coaching clinic and he reads voraciously.
And Friday night, almost seven years since he suffered the injury that threatened to leave him unable to walk, Shaun Patrick Livingston turned in the game of his career in the Brooklyn Nets 104-95 double OT win over the Miami Heat.
Playing a career-high 51 minutes, grabbing a career-high 11 rebounds, scoring 19 points, dishing 5 assists, and drawing an offensive foul on the best player in the world, a foul that disqualified LeBron James with 36 seconds left in the first OT, Livingston was LivingStun.
Without James, and Dwyane Wade, who rested his balky knees, the Nets (15-21) held Miami (27-10) to two points in the second overtime. There was no bravado after that spectacular performance, just the same determined, cerebral player that has defied the odds.
"I was just trying to play a good floor game,'' he said. "Get our offense into our sets. I did an O.K. job. We got stagnant there a little bit in the fourth quarter, OTs. I take responsibility for that."
The title of Siddhartha is a combination of two words in Sanskrit: siddha, which means achieved, and artha, which means what was searched for.
Friday night Livingston achieved what was searched for.
"I've been in some rough places, especially after my injury [in 2007], but that's a long time ago,'' said Livingston. "And there were a lot of different thoughts, but those doubts kind of turned to faith. My family, everybody that's been in my corner, God, it's brought me a long way."
It brought him back, back from the night of Feb. 26, 2007 when he dislocated his left kneecap and tore his ACL, PCL and lateral meniscus. You should know that although Livingston said he had doubts, the doubts were whether he could play at the highest level.
His first thought, after learning of the severity of the injury was clear – he would play again. And in October of 2008 he played four games for none other than the Miami Heat. He was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies and waived.
Livingston, 28, never gave in. He went to the D-League when the D-League was still considered a home for lost causes, not an opportunity to get back to the NBA. The Nets signed him to the minimum veteran contract and they have gotten a maximum return.
"Everybody on this team knows his journey," said Kevin Garnett. "Everybody is very familiar with the story, and it couldn't happen to a better dude, a better individual.
"I've seen him work every day, and I'm just proud to be his teammate and I'm glad things are, at some point, turning for him. I'm happy for him, and we're all happy for him."
There is a lot of joy these days in the Brooklyn locker room. The win over the Heat was their fifth straight and moved them into seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
They were booed off the Barclays Center court on Christmas Day after a dreadful 95-73 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Friday they were the recipients of a standing ovation.
"This was a playoff atmosphere-type game," Paul Pierce said. "You just felt the energy in the building."
Livingston didn't have much energy left as he left the locker room. The Nets play the Toronto Raptors tonight and how in the world Livingston is going to take the court after his 51 minutes is going to take remarkable resolve.
Livingston has already shown he has that and so much more.