Shaun Livingston: "I need to pick it up a little bit"
Being so self-critical about your game, what do you think when you hear people talking in the media about you not breaking out in your second or the third year in the NBA, as you might have been supposed to? How do you see your progress so far?
Shaun Livingston: You know, it’s whatever… I still have time left. I still have a long way to go. My expectations are always going to be high, and that’s not going to change.
Would perhaps not thinking too much about your game and just going out and playing set you free in a sense?
SL: That’s a good point. I’ve never thought about it that way, since I’ve always been so critical with myself on everything I do.
Being a 6-foot-7 point guard with great basketball IQ, you obviously have a tremendous upside on defensive end. How do you see yourself coming along offensively?
SL: I think I still have long ways to go there. I think that I’m still far away from what offensively I should be able to do. Hopefully, it’s going to come with time, but time is running out. Obviously, expectations will always be there, that’s just how it is. I have to keep going out there; I have to continue to try and get better…
How does your role change when you play with or without Sam Cassell on the floor?
SL: We both like having the ball. But since he is more of a shooting guard, when he’s on the floor, I like being more of a facilitator. When I’m without him, I try to generate some scoring myself.
What do you like better – scoring or helping other guys to score?
SL: I guess I like helping other people score, but I have to learn to like it both. It’s just a part of the job of being in the NBA.
Obviously, having Sam Cassell as a tutor for a young point guard such as you is probably a great thing. However, is leadership something that can be taught, or you’re just born with it?
SL: I think you have to have it. You can teach a little bit, some of the qualities, but mostly you just have to have it in you.
Do you think you have it in you?
SL: I thought I do. I think I’m still restraining myself in that regard, still looking too much at other people, what they do and how to help them on the court. Once I’m able to do these things differently, it’s going to be a whole lot easier.
Being 6-foot-7, being a point guard, playing in Los Angeles – you have a lot of things in common with Magic Johnson. Do you see him as a role model at all?
SL: He’s definitely a role model. Everything he’s done for the game of basketball. But as far as the comparison goes, the only thing is physical. It’s nowhere even close: our games, our performance… Because in his second or third year, he’s already a legend, and I’m not even close to that.
For the three seasons that you've played in the NBA, it seems like you’ve seen many different things. From playing for a perennial losing team, to the team that was one of the biggest stories last season, to somewhat of a disappointment of what should have been a really good team this season. What are the lessons you learned in these three almost completely different seasons?
SL: It’s just tough, you know… It’s hard. It’s a hard and long season, and you have to play every game, every game.
What does your team need to play on the level you played for instance in the playoffs against Denver last season?
SL: We just the team, you know, the team confidence. Awareness that you just gotta play better with each other.
You got in the league very young, straight from the high school. Is there still something you are learning about the NBA?
SL: Yeah, consistency of playing the same way each game.
How’s the life for a small Midwestern town kid in LA?
SL: It’s good. I’m able to adapt just because I like traveling. I like bigger cities, so it works out well.
Who helps you the most here?
SL: I have my brother out here. So we’re always chilling or whatever, so it’s cool.
Considering the praises constantly thrown your way from your coach and your teammates, it seems that it’s not too hard to envision you playing for the Clippers for quite some time?
SL: I hope so. I have to play a lot better than I’ve been playing, but I still think I’m doing OK. I just need to pick it up a little bit.
Nebojsa Petrovacki is the editor of Sportska Centrala, a sports news agency from Serbia