Grantland's Jonathan Abrams has a written a great profile of Shaun Livingston, the former NBA phenom whose horrendous knee injury still haunts the league. It's about Livingston's slow slog back to the NBA, and it includes vivid anecdotes that remind us of Livingston's once-tremendous talent, as well as the the truly horrific nature of his injury. One of the most stomach-churning moments in Abrams's piece comes with the description of the immediate aftermath of Livingston's injury:
Jasen Powell, the Clippers trainer, raced to Livingston before play stopped. Dr. Steven Shimoyama quickly followed. Livingston's knee looked like a pretzel, Shimoyama thought to himself. He could tell that Livingston had sustained a severe knee dislocation and wanted to lessen the agonizing suffering immediately. He prepared to pop the knee back into place, knowing the potential problems if it did not lock back in on the first attempt. Each subsequent attempt would have a lower rate of success than the last. The dislocation impaired the circulation to Livingston's foot; gangrene could set in if Shimoyama failed. Worse, failure could necessitate amputation. Shimoyama flexed Livingston's knee and hip to loosen up the hamstring so he would not fight muscle contractions as he tried to put the knee back into place. He placed an elbow on Livingston's knee to increase his pull. After a few seconds, the knee popped back into place.
Good god. Livingston's injury was so terrible that it essentially transformed the Clippers' athletic trainer into a combat medic. If you need me, I'll be over here shuddering.
And of course, since this is a story that involves the Los Angeles Clippers, there's a nice reminder of just what a dysfunctional, slipshod organization it is:
Back then, the Clippers practiced at a public athletic club. The infrastructure was far different from the state-of-the-art facility the franchise now showcases. The training staff did the very best they could with Livingston and others, but they lacked the equipment of other organizations, Livingston said. "We've got practice and we finish practice and we got 60-year-old naked guys in the hot tub," Livingston recalled.
The Los Angeles Clippers: the team to play for if you want rehab from one of the most disastrous injuries in NBA history with naked old dudes at a public recreation center.