Shooting For Balance
Suns guard Langston Galloway brings you inside his on- and off-court life in multimedia diary series
Welcome to the latest “Kickin’ It with LG,” an ongoing multimedia diary series with exclusive access to Suns shooting guard Langston Galloway. He’ll bring you inside the on- and off-court life of an NBA player while navigating the strangest season in league history, including behind-the-scenes video content and conversations between Galloway and teammates.
In Release 2, Galloway shares how he balances the intense focus required to be an NBA player with exploring his off-the-court passions. He also chats with teammate Cam Johnson, who is currently enrolled with Galloway in a program called “Harvard Business School and the NBA: Crossover into Business,” which pairs players with Harvard M.B.A. student-mentors to help develop their business acumen and interests.
March 8, 2021
It’s really shocking that the season is halfway over. I feel like you don’t realize it when you’re in the grind of it all. But the games are really rolling. We’re at this point where we’re trying to condense 72 games into five months. That’s a really hard schedule. We looked at the second half of the season, and there’s no two days where you have a full day off where I can relax a little bit and then another day to practice. It’s literally just playing, playing, playing. You've really got to, as a team, come together and find ways to get better and find ways to just continue to gel.
From top to bottom, everybody’s hungry. The Charlotte game, for example, was a perfect example for our whole team, our whole organization, being like, “Hey, look, we’ve done a lot thus far in the season, but we’re not where we need to be at.” We’ve lost a few games here we’re like, “Wow, we should have won this game.” Those are the games that really bring you down to earth and you’re like, “All right, we’re not as good as we think. We really have to bring it every single night.” I think that’s kind of what’s humbled us. But all at the same time, too, it’s kept us driven all season long. I think that’s where we’re at right now. Even though we’ve been playing really well as a team, there’s always room for improvement.
The mentality of staying ready is kind of how my whole career has gone. Going undrafted. Getting an opportunity to stay here in the States and play in the D-League, then getting an opportunity to get called up. Making the most of my opportunities when my number is called and going out there and rising to the occasion. That’s been my whole career throughout the number of teams that I’ve been on — You might be in the rotation one night, or you might be out of the rotation the next night. It’s like, hey, look, no matter what, just be ready when that time is. For me and all the guys that are kind of trying to find a way to get back in the rotation — Jevon, Abdel, Cam Payne — even though we might not be playing in games, we’re playing 1-on-1, we’re playing 3-on-3, we’re trying to find ways to stay locked in to what’s going on. That’s what’s pushing us and helping us get better, because we’re not just saying, “We’re winning. There’s no point in even trying.” It’s a daily grind. It keeps everybody hungry, because everybody wants to get on the court. Nobody wants to sit on the bench. But at the same time, too, those are all lessons. I never consider sitting on the bench as, “Oh, man. Coach is punishing me or something.” There’s a lesson I need to learn, or something I need to grow in my game to get better with and work on.
Coach has put it out there that it could be anybody in the rotation at any given time, any given night. Being a players’ coach has really helped me. He comes to you and says, “Hey, look, we need you tonight.” The next night, “Hey, look, we’re gonna go with a different lineup and switch it up.” Him letting you know your role right away, instead of waiting and trying to figure it all out, it just seems like it comes from the heart.
If I’m playing or not playing, it doesn’t matter. I’m still doing the same routine. I’m trying to find ways to stay moving during timeouts. Most of the time, I’m trying to activate muscles that may get tight. You’re in warm-ups getting loose for the game. Then you go sit down. I’m always just doing my movements, whether that’s working on some karaokes or doing some slides or doing some holds in the bottom of a defensive stance or a lunge stance. Just to keep the muscles firing no matter what, because at any moment — God willing, you don’t want anybody to get hurt — but your number can get called. You can be not playing for the number of games I haven’t played and, all of a sudden, bang! You’re back in there playing.
There’s the mental aspect, as well — just being locked in and knowing what’s going on in the game. I’ve done a better job and I’ve learned this over the last couple of years. I’m always just picking and trying to see what can I learn from somebody that is in there that’s starting, like if they see something on the floor that we can exploit or something that we need to be better at. I’m always on the side asking CP questions. Or Jevon Carter and I are on the side talking and trying to figure out, “What do you see? What do you think we can do, or what can we say to somebody that might help them in the game?”
That goes a long way, when you feel like, “Man, this guy is making an effort to just give me a high five.” Or maybe he’s trying to say something to me, or maybe he’s just encouraging. I’m always saying something to somebody, just to keep them going, to keep them energized in the game like, “Hey, keep pushing. We’ve got two minutes left.” You don’t know when that can kind of be reciprocated when you might need that in the game, or you just don’t know what a guy’s going through mentally or physically.
I’ve always thought, “How can I find a way to broaden my knowledge?” Not just from a standpoint of watching games. From the standpoint of knowing that one day this ball will stop bouncing, and I’ve always been prepared for it. Because I don’t know when it’s gonna stop. It could stop tomorrow. It could stop 10 years from now. I’ve tried to make the most of all my relationships that I’ve built over these last few years and continue to build going forward. I know that I’ll be able to use that as something that will help me go onto my next career. With the NBPA, they’ve done a great job with just giving all 450 guys an opportunity to at least get their feet wet with some type of internship or something that might intrigue you going forward. That’s what I’ve done. I’ve always just wanted to gain more knowledge and find ways to just keep my mind sharp. I love basketball. It’s my No. 1 passion. I put everything I have into basketball. But also, off the court, I do the same thing.
A few of my former teammates, they brought the Harvard Business class to my attention every single season. They’re always like, “Hey, you need to take this class.” I’d always put it off, because the last few years I’ve done other programs. Last summer, I did the “Accelerator” program that the NBPA had partnered with Patricof Co., a private investment platform catered to professional athletes. The summer before that, we were doing a big project with NASA. Every summer, there’s always something I’m adding to my resume. Finally, I was like, “This is the perfect time to go into this Harvard Business class and see where I can really benefit from it.”
I’m truly enjoying the class. My mentors, Mikal and Arielle, that have been helping me with the class, they’ve been really amazing. Both of them are helping me learn the business lingo and just learning things that I remember doing in college but I haven’t done it in a while. So they’re just kind of refreshing my mind. But at the same time, too, they’re just trying to help me with how you can relate all the different case studies that I've worked on. I’ve done Burberry. I’m doing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson right now. Both of the cases really relate to what I’m working on with my start-up with my wife. That’s how you work with the case. You have to find ways to just have your own opinion, but, two, also answer the question all at the same time. The league is allowing us to come into to a class and watch virtually. It really is as hands-on as you want it to be. I love diving into something that really intrigues me. On the flights, I could be watching a movie. I could be doing a number of things. But I'm taking the time out to read these cases and try to learn and highlight points. I'm making different notations on what's good, what's not good, what can I take away and what can I add?
I actually did the NBPA’s “Sportscaster U” program early on in my career. Most of the guys that were in there were much older than me. Steve Novak and Danny Green were there. We had some great guests. Antonio Daniels did the program when his career was going on, and he was coming back and just helping the younger guys like myself learn it and figure it all out. Them throwing me in the ringer, I was just caught off-guard, because I didn’t know how much research you need to do and how much you have to dive into the game. It really is learning basketball all over again, but from a different angle. At the same time, too, you can have your own spin because you can kind of talk about the game from the perspective that the fan wants to hear about, like the locker room or, “Hey, when I was playing, my team used to run ‘Angle 5.’” Just share that different terminology that you can kind of break down for the fan to understand. That’s what makes entertainment for the fans, because then they feel like, “Oh, I’m a part of it.” I remember when I first started, you had to look at the camera directly as if it were the fan. You have to really show a lot of emotion. I was so nervous that it was all a blur to me. Now, looking back at how I’ve learned how to look at the camera and just be able to be myself while I’m in front of the camera, that’s where I’ve learned that from.
When you’re a part of another teammate getting an All-Star nod, that’s not just a nod for just him, but it’s a nod for the whole team. Everybody feels like, “Hey, if he made it on the All-Star team, I feel like we’re all All-Stars.” It’s always great to see that and just be a part of something special. Both Book and CP have been doing great things this season. Just some phenomenal 1-on-1 skills to finish out games for us. We really rely on them to help us win games. (Editor's note: It was announced Friday that Booker would not play in the All-Star Game due to a knee injury.)
It was kind of a shock to everybody on our team when Book wasn’t voted an All-Star by the coaches, because we all knew what Book brings to the table. I don’t want to say it was a slap in the face, but it’s just disrespectful. They’re saying, “Well, you’re having a great season, but you’re not an All-Star.” No offense to all the other All-Stars that were picked, but he and CP, both of them have elevated our team to being a top-4 team in the West at the time of voting. It leaves more motivation for Book — and for the rest of the team. It’s like we’ve got to go out every single night and prove to these coaches, like, “Hey, look, we’re better than what y’all are making it. Because y’all feel like there’s some doubt that’s in your mind about who we are and what we can continue to be.” We’re going to continue to go out there and prove why we’re one of the best teams in the West.
This year, the All-Star break is going to be different, for sure. Normally, my wife and my son and I, we would go on vacation to some tropic island. Last year, we were in Detroit, so we were trying to get as far away as possible, just to get some sun and to get out of the snow. This year, it’ll be a little different. The break isn’t as long. Protocols are kind of calling us back to the city much faster. We’re really just gonna stay in Phoenix. Just enjoy the sun and get some time to spend with my son. Also, just enjoy Phoenix a little bit. It’s been hard to enjoy the city from the standpoint of not being able to move around as much and just being cautious because you’re getting tested every single day. This will be the first opportunity for my wife and my son and me to kind of venture out and see what else Phoenix has to offer, whether it’s a park or taking my son to the aquarium. Just to get out for just a little bit, but be careful at the same time.
— Langston Galloway, as told to Gina Mizell
Welcome to my Life
Suns guard Langston Galloway brings you inside his on- and off-court life in multimedia diary series
Welcome to the first release of Kickin’ It with LG, an ongoing multimedia diary series with exclusive access to Suns shooting guard Langston Galloway. He’ll bring you inside the on- and off-court life of an NBA player while navigating the strangest season in league history, including behind-the-scenes video content and conversations between Galloway and teammates.
In Release 1, Galloway shares why he signed with the Suns during a quick free-agency period, his game-day routine and how he and teammates have meshed during the Suns’ recent surge. Galloway also chats with teammate E’Twaun Moore, another new Sun who also played with Galloway in New Orleans.
Feb. 22, 2021
From signing with the Suns to where I’m at now, it has really been a roller-coaster ride, because of just how it’s going so fast. It’s so crazy, because normally you have 82 games. This is just the warm-up. You’re just getting stretched out. Now, you look at it and it’s like, “Man, this is a third of the season. This is a huge snippet of the season gone already.”
Within a whole span of like a week, week-and-a-half, my whole life changed. Normally, the process from being a free agent to starting the season, you have the draft in June, and July 1 would be free agency. You’d then have a mini camp or a team get-together in August or September, and normally everybody would show up to the facility a little bit after Labor Day weekend. Then the season wouldn’t start until October. So you gotta think about going from a three-month, huge period where you can kind of ease your way into it, get accustomed to playing with the guys if you’re going to a new team, as well as trying to find an apartment and do all the small things you take for granted when it’s a long offseason. Comparing it to now, it’s, like, really fast. The draft was a day or two before free agency started. Then you go right from free agency to the season starting. Everything happened within that one-week, two-week period.
The biggest thing for me in signing with the Suns was just getting the opportunity to compete for a position at the guard spot. Some of these guys that I’ve played against have been All-Stars and have had that opportunity to go to the playoffs. The Suns organization and Coach Monty and James Jones have built a reputation that they’re putting together a great squad. I think that’s what, mentally, made me think, “Man, this would be great for me to be a part of something like this going forward and really get an opportunity just to showcase what I can do.” Once they called and gave me the opportunity, I jumped at the chance to make the decision to go to the Suns.
I had to be ready, because I stopped playing in March with Detroit. The Suns, they went to the bubble, had a great run at 8-0. But I stopped. I hadn’t played a real, organized game against other NBA players since March. That’s how long I’ve been sitting around. So, from March all the way until December, that’s a long time to be just sitting still. It was definitely nerve-wracking, because you always know that you can still play the game, but at the same time, too, in your back of your mind, you’re like, “Man, this is something new.” Going to the same team, it’s easier. But with a new group, you gotta come ready.
Once I left Baton Rouge, I was leaving for good. I went 2 1/2 weeks without seeing my wife and son. Then once they got out to Phoenix, I was like, “Hey, let’s go get tested real fast. Because I’ve been in a bubble, and you guys have been in a bubble.” One flight can change everything, and it’s nerve-wracking. You don’t want your family coming to town for the first time and they are positive, and then you become positive because you’ve been around them. They came, tested negative and it was all good from there.
We take a rapid test every single day. You can bring some breakfast from home or just sit in the car and wait for 30 minutes until the results come back. It’s like getting called to the principal’s office. They say, “All right, you’re good,” or, “You’re not good.” It’s nerve-wracking, because if you do become positive, you’ve got to go right back home and you’re quarantined for the next 14 days. After that, you have a good hour or two-hour window where you know, “All right, I have to get myself ready for practice.” My normal routine is trying to get in the hot tub, get warmed up, get a lift in before practice. After practice, I’ll come back to the facility late at night or just go home and get some rest. It’s definitely a routine you try to get in the habit of doing.
But then the NBA tightened up everything. We have another test at 5 p.m. now. And that’s not accounting for the number of hours that we aren’t at the gym. You think about practice is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then you’ve got the rest of the day to do whatever. But it’s not really a “whatever” anymore. You used to be able to take your family and hang out and ride around, but now it’s mostly sitting in your room or bringing food from the facility home, watching TV, reading. There’s not as much as we can do outside of the house now. We’re kind of restricted. Because if you go out around people, someone takes a picture of whatever you’re doing, you can become suspended or you can test positive. It’s a lot of “what-ifs” that float around with leaving home and really taking that chance. You have to create a bubble within normal society.
The first day of training camp is like the first day of school. You want to show off what you’ve been working on in the summertime. You want to catch up with old friends. Coming to a new team, I’m not saying I was walking on eggshells, but I was really just trying to learn how people move and understand how people just interact. I like to observe and really just understand how things work. The first couple days, I wasn’t too talkative. To the guys that I’ve played against and knew, it was, ‘Hey, what’s up?” I started communicating and started learning everybody.
When we started going on the road and really having a lot of time around each other, I think that’s when the relationships really started to build. It’s a slow process, because you’d normally have these relationships built in the summertime, when you have that two- or three-month window when we’d go to people’s houses and work out. That’s when you go to dinners just to hang out. We’re catching up on lost time, but also building the relationships as we go. You’re around other players more than your family. You become part of a new family at this stage.
The first cool bonding moment we had as a team as during the Christmas holiday. That was around the first game, and we were actually on the road. We were doing a “Secret Santa,” and everybody was excited because it was a game where you can take somebody else’s gift and you can pick and choose what you want and what you don’t like. It was a pretty cool game to start with, but then it got interesting because people started taking people’s gifts and laughing and it was entertaining. It was fun. Those are those moments that you’re like, “Man, OK, this feels real.” It’s not like, “Oh, man, we have to fake this and really make this work.” It was something real, something that everybody had a great time with. I think that was the first real moment I was like, “OK, as a unit, we’re starting to bond. We’re starting to figure this out.”
The night leading up to a road game, I normally get some dinner, relax a little bit in the room, watch some TV. I especially read a lot right now, because I’m going into my class with the Harvard Business School, so I’m getting ready for a couple cases. I normally get a 9 o’clock massage right before bedtime. The new norm is that we get up probably about 7 or 8 a.m. and go get a test. I grab some breakfast on the way down there or right after I finish my test. I come back upstairs to the room, relax for a little bit while I’m eating. Right before the bus, I normally do a lift. I call it “The Breakfast Club,” just to get the muscles going and wake yourself up. Cory Schlesinger, our strength and conditioning coach, and I have gotten in a routine. Then, go right to the bus for shootaround, get some shots up and feel good.
Normally at the end of every practice and every shootaround, we always do trick shots. I’m always the big trick-shot guy. I love doing throws from the bleachers, just to get the guys involved. When we had our trip to Houston, I think that’s when it really picked up, because other guys saw me shooting a couple and they’re like, “Oh I want to do something, too.” That also builds camaraderie. Guys are like, “I want to be a part of it” and just try their luck. As the season goes on, you see a lot of guys come out of the shells and open up.
After we leave shootaround, I come back to the hotel, get some food real quick. I normally do some more recovery, my NormaTec Leg Pulse. Then head to the gym. I’m always on the early bus — that way I can be the first one in there. If it’s possible to walk over to the arena early, I’ll walk over just to get some extra shots. At the beginning of my career, when I played in New York, it was always my MO to be there early. I kind of got that from Kobe, the Mamba Mentality. I got that from Ray Allen, too. As an athlete, you want to put your whole soul into whatever you’re doing and whatever you’re passionate about. That’s what I do. I really put my best foot forward. Make sure everything feels good. Make sure the body’s ready for the game.
I come back to the locker room and read some more of my books just to relax the mind. I’m very serious on the court, but for the most part, I’m just enjoying the moment, because this NBA life is not something you take for granted. It could be here one day and gone the next. Once I finish reading my book, it’s time for virtual chapel. At that point, the clock will be down to 40 minutes until tipoff. I get dressed, have a team meeting at 35 minutes and then it’s time to rock.
This is definitely the best stretch I‘ve had of basketball, us winning six games in a row. This stretch of 11 out of 13. Let’s keep this thing rolling.
It’s really fun, because you just don’t know whose night it’s gonna be. That’s the beauty of basketball. One night, it might be one person helping out. Then it might be another person the next night. Everybody’s just staying ready. The competition level is even higher than ever now, because everybody wants to help out. Nobody wants to sit there and just say, “Hey, I’m just watching.”
You don’t want to let those games that you should have gotten linger. Down the stretch, it’s like you look back on the season and you’re like, “Man, we should have gotten that game” or, “We should have won the last three games in a row.” You never want to have that regret as a team. I think that’s what we learned since the beginning of the season. There were games that were in the balance and we won those games, and then we got to the stretch where we lost a couple against Denver and Oklahoma City and we said, “Ah, we should have won those games.” I think that, from a standpoint of a whole team, we really nipped that in the bud early on with everybody contributing, everybody learning how to get over those humps where we might be struggling and somebody else picks us up and we kind of ride it out to getting a win. I think that’s where, when you have a deep roster, it can really be beneficial. And then also, everybody’s on the sidelines talking to each other, trying to encourage each other. It’s fun when you’re a part of something that’s special that you can kind of see the culmination building up.
Having the fans actually in the arena has been amazing. That’s what we really have depended on every single night. You hear the surround sound from the PA system, but when you really get to see the fans, that brings a whole different atmosphere. I really enjoy it. I know the rest of the team has enjoyed it. And you can kind of feel, once we get on a run and there’s a lot of exciting plays, you hear the “oohs” and the “ahs” and it’s like, “Oh, OK. It feels like basketball’s back now.” You feel like you’ve been playing in a practice gym, and now you’re going back to playing in actual arenas. They’re making a huge difference.
— Langston Galloway, as told to Gina Mizell