Langston Galloway finished last season with the Pistons with an uncertain future. His three-year contract expired and when their season ended abruptly because of the pandemic, Galloway was headed for the fifth team entering just his seventh season.
When the Phoenix Suns came calling, it looked to be a good fit for Galloway, especially given their finish to the season in the Orlando bubble, with an eight-game win streak and a ton of momentum heading into this season. It didn’t hurt that they added Chris Paul to a young core that looked ready to make a splash in the Western Conference this season.
Things have worked out a little better than most expected, as Galloway and the Suns are in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993, and they’re trying to win the first championship in franchise history.
“It’s crazy to look at it, but it’s really been a journey. Seven years in and to see all of the different teams I’ve been a part of, this is the first time where I’ve had an opportunity to make a Finals run,” Galloway said. “I’m just so excited to be a part of this organization, but also too, there’s a lot of learning I’ve gone through this season, with a lot of different experiences.
“Paul, (Devin Booker) and all those guys have taught me different things along the way that have helped me with my game going forward.”
It’s been a different type of season for Galloway, 29, who had a much bigger role in his time with the Pistons, including averaging 10.3 points and shooting a career-best 40% on 3-pointers and playing a critical role off the bench last season.
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With the Suns, Galloway’s role has been scaled back some, averaging 11 minutes in just 40 games. The numbers still have been solid: 4.8 points and shooting 42% on 3-pointers and 45% from the field. He was a regular in the rotation early in the season, but the minutes have been harder to come by in the playoffs, as he saw action in just two games during their run to the Finals.
The change has been an adjustment, but Galloway is enjoying the journey and staying prepared for a time when he could be a sparkplug in the Finals.
“It was extremely tough,” Galloway said. “I’m still trying to figure out the situation. I was having such a great year when it came to my efficiency and everything like that. I saw that things started changing, and I was thinking maybe it’s just a year for me to learn and watch and sit back and try to understand how I get better with the time or the experience of watching and working on my game and all the off time.
“The professional that I am in every situation, I want to be the best me that I can be.”
As one of the few veterans with more than five years of NBA experience, Galloway has plenty to add to the huddles and a voice that can help the young core through some of the bumps in a long season and emotional trip through the playoffs.
Paul definitely has been one of the lynchpins to the Suns’ success throughout this season, and Galloway reiterated the importance of having the 16-year veteran at the controls. When Paul has been available, they’ve been one of the top teams in the league; when Paul has had to miss time, the Suns have had to figure out a different identity.
That’s been part of their breakthrough success.
“I think the biggest thing that (Paul) has brought to this team is his confidence-building,” Galloway said. “He’s been amazing when it comes to just exuding confidence in everybody — not just the guys that are playing and the main guys — but everybody. He really talks to guys and helps guys through situations, telling them, ‘This is what I feel like would be great for you or this is what you need to do.’
“He’s really done a great job of being able to just help everybody in that situation. If you’re struggling or you might need a pickup or whatever the case might be. But it’s always been that confidence-building and knowing that if CP is trying to help you through something, it’s going to boost your confidence even more.”
Best in the West
The Suns have made huge strides this season, including their big win in the first round over the defending-champion Lakers and LeBron James. Going through the Clippers in the conference finals cemented that this playoff run wasn’t a fluke and that they were legit contenders.
“We’ve been doing some special things in the West,” Galloway said. “Everybody says there are a lot of good teams in the West, and they all are really good but then when you look at us beating LeBron and those guys and then us playing the Clippers and Utah, we’ve played against a lot of these teams head-to-head and we took care of them most nights. That’s why we had the ultimate confidence coming into the season and coming into the playoffs knowing if they want to give us their best shot, we’re going to give them our best shot right back and that’s what really gave us confidence, especially beating the Lakers in the first round.
Some of that momentum was created with their strong finish last season, and with their additions in free agency, including Paul and Jae Crowder, they put together a good blend of veterans to augment what they had in Booker and Deandre Ayton and the young core.
The pandemic also made things interesting, with Galloway and his wife Sabrina welcoming their second child, Leigh, in April. The Suns were in New York and Galloway had a hectic time trying to fly back to his home in Louisiana in time for the birth.
Things all worked out, though, after some maneuvering.
“I was there for the birth, but I wasn’t there after the birth. I had to leave and come back to Phoenix. So, they were gone for basically two months,” he said. “Sabrina had to leave a month before the birth and I got there for the birth, and then they were still away from me for a whole month. So, it was tough.
“It was tough, not being able to see them and not being able to be around our newborn. But now they’re out here, and we’re just enjoying this whole journey of this playoff run — it’s special.”