In the days leading up to the Boston Celtics‘ Friday evening bout with the Houston Rockets, there was hope that second-year wing and former lottery pick Romeo Langford would be making his long-awaited season debut in the game.
Although the 21-year-old is still attempting to find his legs after being stuck in health and safety protocols in recent weeks, Langford had been a participant in practice recently. And Brad Stevens had even discussed potentially playing him in short bursts in Friday’s game.
Shortly after he had made those comments, Langford was officially cleared to play in the contest.
However, less than 24 hours later, he is back on the injury report. His official status for the Rockets game: OUT due to post-health and safety protocols reconditioning.
Unsurprisingly, it was a disappointing development for fans eager to see the 2019 NBA Draft’s No. 14 overall pick in action. Some have found themselves so taken aback by Langford’s continued absence that they are once again questioning whether or not he even exists.
Fans Wonder if Langford Actually Exists
In the wake of the Celtics’ latest injury report — which also listed Tristan Thompson and Semi Ojeleye as scratches — fans were quick to inundate social media with memes and replies insinuating that Langford isn’t actually real.
“#doesRomeoexist?” tweeted one fan in reply to the Celtics’ latest update.
“Romeo Langford isn’t real,” declared another reply.
“Nah Romeo is definitely dead,” theorized a third fan. “I’ll pray for him.”
“Romeo Langford is an NBA player?” wondered another tweet.
A slew of other tweets joked that Langford’s removal from the injury report on Thursday was little more than an April Fool’s prank. And given that it was April 1 and Langford has appeared to be on the cusp of returning before, only to find himself back on the injury report, it almost feels as such.
To that end, the best response to Langford missing the Rockets game may have come from the Celtics Subreddit, where one user wrote, “Ainge spent more time engineering this years April fools day prank than he did putting together a championship contender.”
Romeo’s Long & Winding Road and the Effects of COVID-19
As noted by some fans in the wake of Langford’s new status, he clearly is not ready to play at this juncture, which is perfectly reasonable. In addition to potentially having lingering effects from contracting COVID-19, he was unable to do any kind of physical work while he was in health and safety protocols.
Said Stevens, via CLNS: “Romeo’s just getting back, just getting his legs under him,” he said. “He hadn’t done anything for the better part of two-plus weeks. You know, you’re not allowed to. And so, he is still ramping up.”
He concluded by saying he was hopeful Langford’s return would be “sooner rather than later.”
Although those hopes may ultimately come to fruition, fans’ frustrations are understandable given the former Indiana standout’s rocky road in his early career.
Throughout his rookie season, Langford was saddled with a number of injuries. He was felled by a thumb injury, recurring ankle problems and his run in the league’s Orlando, Florida bubble was cut short due to a right wrist injury that ultimately required surgery and a lengthy recovery time.
He was just nearing his return from that injury when he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year.
In 32 games last season, Langford averaged 2.5 points and 1.3 rebounds per contest.