In the minutes following the NBA’s announcement that the season was being suspended because a player had tested positive for COVID-19, there was a suffocating blanket of uncertainty and disbelief over the sports world.
That night, the Pistons had lost their fifth straight game and were hurtling toward finishing the final 16 games of a deflating regular season.
Then everything stopped; the NBA was frozen.
March 11 seems like eons ago, when Langston Galloway was the only Pistons player who spoke to the media that night and his words still ring true in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
“I'm just taking it moment by moment right now, trying to figure out the NBA stance with everything that’s going on,” Galloway said on March 11. “As players, we’re being cautious and we’re listening to the direction of what the league wants to do going forward and we just continue to just stay on protocol.”
In the 11 weeks since, it’s been a waiting game for Galloway and the rest of the league. Although there is no definite roadmap to resuming the regular season, there are a few suggestions of return-to-play proposals, mostly centered on playing in a “bubble” atmosphere in Orlando, limiting the contacts and number of people in the environment to limit the threat of spreading the virus.
There seems to be momentum between the league’s Board of Governors and the National Basketball Players Association toward returning, with proposals that include only the 16 playoff teams or an added few — but not all 30 teams. Neither of those suggested scenarios would include the Pistons, who are 20-46 and have the fifth-worst record in the league.
That could expedite a potential harsh reality for Galloway, who is in the last season of his three-year contract. If the Pistons are left out of a return to play, he could have played his last game in a Pistons jersey, as he will become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.
“I really haven’t (thought about it). I know it’s coming whenever the season finishes,” Galloway told The Detroit News this week. “It’s difficult. You don’t know when you’re starting and finishing. At the same time, that’s why I’ve been so active and keeping my body prepared for whatever is next.”
Galloway, 28, was in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 10.3 points and shooting a career-best 40 percent on 3-pointers and 43 percent from the field. He’s been one of the Pistons’ bright spots in an otherwise dismal season, which devolved into rebuild mode when Blake Griffin had season-ending knee surgery, Andre Drummond was traded at the deadline and Reggie Jackson and Markieff Morris were bought out of their contracts.
Galloway continued to produce and became one of the Pistons’ top reserves, playing just under 26 minutes per game and continuing his role as one of the leaders in the locker room with a cadre of young players who benefit from his professionalism.
As the Pistons’ representative to the players association, Galloway is staying abreast of the updates regarding resumption plans, including a conference call this week with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts to update the Pistons on where things stand and to get their feedback about how they want to proceed.
“My preference is any way I can play, as long as the Pistons get to play,” Galloway said. “If we didn’t get to finish, I would say I had a great season and move on to the summer workouts.
“I played in every single game, so I put my work on display every single game and the work I continue to put on display. I have no regrets going into the summer.”
Almost three months have passed since the season was suspended, but Galloway has been anything but a couch potato. He was doing daily workouts at his home in the Detroit area, but when the players were allowed to return to their home states, he got back to Louisiana, where he had a basketball rim in his backyard and could do more shooting drills.
“I’ve been working outside and that’s the basis of everything. With everything starting to open up, there are a couple of gyms in the area and I’ve been working out there,” Galloway said. “I’m ready to go ASAP. I’ve been putting my body through the wringer, being able to do everything on my own.”
When the local gyms opened, his regimen included about 1,000 shots each day, in addition to the cardio workouts, with boxing, treadmill, and other targeted drills to work on maintaining his strength.
The Pistons provided some equipment to each of the players, along with a customized workout, with the weightlifting workouts and respiratory training so that he could maintain himself and stay in game shape.
Galloway used some time to give back to the community, doing a virtual event with the Jr. NBA, demonstrating drills and techniques to improve core strength and to
More than basketball
The time away from games has made for some unorthodox timing for a break, earlier than the typical offseason, but still with the potential for more games to come. While he waits, Galloway has had more time to spend time with his wife, Sabrina, and their son, Langston Jr.
“He just turned 2 two weeks ago and I’m fortunate not to have missed his birthday,” Galloway said. “Seeing him grow up every day and being around, he’s really loving having me around and learning new things every day.”
The break also has given him to think about his post-basketball career, with a focus on starting a business. He’s known for his extensive shoe selection and his customized Q4 sneakers that have become a buzz around the league.
He’s looking to expand his brand and learn more of the ropes of entrepreneurship.
“To be honest, I’ve been focused on business ventures and putting together the business plan for LG Kicks and other endeavors during this time,” he said. “This (break) is almost a retirement before retirement, to take advantage of these times.”
Sabrina also has been busy, hosting “Girls Dream Big” webinars through the Pistons on women’s leadership and empowerment, including one on Thursday that featured Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, soccer player Lauren Holiday, Olympic fencing medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad and Priority Health president and CEO Joan Budden.
Just as Sabrina cheers and supports him during the season, Langston appreciates that she has her own business endeavors and interests.
“It’s been great. Once this ball stops bouncing for me, I’m going to be a stay-at-home dad and I want her to be able to flourish in whatever she chooses,” Langston said. “The Pistons have helped with the women’s empowerment movement. Numerous people have had the opportunity to reach out to her and me and give some great feedback. It’s great to see what she’s done.”