By A. Sherrod Blakely
Here’s a fun, or irrelevant fact to munch on.
Did you know that the name Romeo is the 1,751st most popular name given in the United States with an estimated U.S. population of 13,688?
I know, I know.
It’s like a drop of a drop in the bucket when you consider the United States population is well over 300 million.
In other words, it’s easy to overlook the name Romeo because it’s so uncommon.
But when you see it or hear it, it’s hard to forget, right?
That brings me to Romeo Langford, the former first-round pick of the Boston Celtics who has had an injury-marred career highlighted more by his time recovering than receiving playing time.
The buzz surrounding Romeo coming into this season had all the excitement of … who am I kidding!
There was no buzz … at all!
And yet two preseason games into the books, and we’re talking about the 21-year-old Romeo for all the right reasons.
In Boston’s first preseason game, it was Romeo who came up with a late-game steal and followed that up moments later, with a game-winning 3-pointer.
And Saturday against Toronto, the basketball gods were once again showing Romeo some love when he was plucked by head coach Ime Udoka as a last-minute fill-in starter when Jaylen Brown’s COVID-19 test on Friday was positive which will likely keep Brown out for the rest of the preseason.
It wasn’t so much that Romeo was scoring buckets.
As a prep All-American, we all knew Romeo could shoot.
That was clear, with Romeo scoring 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting which included him making three of his four 3-point attempts in Boston's 113-111 win over Toronto.
But the thing is, when you’re on the bench dealing with injuries as much as he has had to in his first two NBA seasons, it’s easy to buy into the narrative that he’s not passionate about the game with his low-key demeanor is the reason why.
But Saturday had a different vibe about it with Romeo on the floor.
He showed that he could in fact play productive minutes when the opportunity presented itself.
In the past, Romeo’s cooler-than-cool demeanor raised questions about his passion for the game which you rarely see him express.
But for those of us fortunate to have spent some time with Romeo when he’s not on the floor, often that lack of outward bravado outshines the fact that the dude is very confident that he’ll do well when his opportunity to play presents itself like it did on Saturday.
“People question my love for the game and passion which is dumb to me,” Romeo said earlier this summer in Las Vegas. “I just feel like people don’t know me, and you can ask anybody...whoever works out with me, how much I love the game, how much heart I have.”
But the thing is, when you’re on the bench dealing with injuries as much as he has had to in his first two NBA seasons, it’s easy to buy into the narrative that he’s not passionate about the game with his low-key demeanor being the reason why.
Even when he’s making big plays, you wouldn’t know it by his reaction.
Looking back at his game-winner against Orlando, Romeo’s teammates were easily more jazzed up about his shot, than he expressed outwardly.
There are some athletes who embody the Roman proverb when translated that means, “Still Waters run deep.”
Romeo is that dude!
And if he can continue to play at a level we’ve seen thus far, he’ll get his number called more - a lot more.
And who knows?
We just may see a few more Romeos out there, too.