|Gallinari set for pressure of playing in New York|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 27 June 2008 09:26|
Especially since he wore the same number as a giant of Italian hoops - who now happens to be his coach.
Gallinari proved to be worthy of wearing Mike D'Antoni's No. 8 back home, and hopes to win over the fans that jeered him on draft night when he dons a Knicks jersey with the same number next season.
``I think it is two different worlds,'' the 19-year-old Gallinari said Friday at the Knicks' training center. ``There is a lot of pressure in Milan and a lot of pressure in New York. So I'm going to different places, but same place.''
And not an easy one. Fans at the draft booed loudly when the Knicks took Gallinari on Thursday with the No. 6 pick, and that was nothing compared to what he'll hear if he doesn't produce right away next season.
``I think Danilo and I and Mike understand that he's going to have to answer all those questions by how he plays, and understand that he's a young player like all the other rookies and it'll be gradually better,'' Knicks president Donnie Walsh said.
Walsh said he got a strong recommendation from former coach Isiah Thomas after a European scouting trip, citing Gallinari's poise in crunch time at such a young age.
``Basically at the end of games, they gave him the ball and he made the plays,'' Walsh said. ``For a guy that's that big, that's unusual.''
Playing under D'Antoni should help Gallinari adjust to the NBA. D'Antoni was a star player and championship-winning coach in Italy, where he was once a teammate of Gallinari's father, Vittorio. On the phone after the pick, D'Antoni began the conversation in what was still pretty good Italian, Danilo Gallinari said.
``He played so many years in Europe and Italy, so he knows where I am from, where I come from, and he's probably the right guy to help me, the right coach to help me,'' Gallinari said.
Gallinari doesn't know D'Antoni well, but certainly knows of him. And when he showed up in Milan as a teenager and asked for No. 8, Gallinari was constantly reminded that ``Mike D'Antoni is a legend in Milan.''
``Some pressure about that,'' Gallinari said.
Unlike Kobe Bryant, who used to wear No. 8 in honor of D'Antoni, Gallinari's choice of the number had nothing to do with his new coach. He picked it for his birth date - Aug. 8, 1988.
The Knicks believe Gallinari will be a good fit in D'Antoni's system because of his outside shooting ability. Listed at 6-foot-8, though Walsh said he's closer to 6-10, Gallinari shot 40 percent from 3-point range last season for Armani Jeans of Milan, averaging 17.5 points in Italian A-1 League play.
D'Antoni's offense depends on having shooters at every position, and Walsh recognized the Knicks didn't. Perhaps when he bulks up, Gallinari can be used as a perimeter-shooting power forward, the way Shawn Marion was under D'Antoni in Phoenix, where he developed into an All-Star.
Gallinari and Walsh both said a doctor told them the forward could grow another inch, perhaps making him as big a threat on the interior as he is from the outside.
``And he's a very, very good shooter,'' Walsh said. ``So I think the combination of being able to take it to the goal and then shoot from the outside, for a guy that big I think is going to be a pretty lethal combination once he gets the strength and all that.''