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Danilo Gallinari remembers ‘The Night that Changed Basketball Forever’

Gallo describes his thoughts on COVID-19

Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Danilo Gallinari is a player who is well-placed to talk about the Coronavirus, he understands the virus deeply and the real effect that it can have on people. It was reported a few weeks ago that he lost a close family friend to the virus as he has a lot of friends and family in Northern Italy where COVID-19 is widespread. The Lombardy region has been affected greatly and through the ongoing crisis in his own country, Gallinari has learned a lot in the recent weeks.

When the virus affected the NBA, Gallinari found himself in a unique position. He was a participant in the cancelled Thunder-Jazz game, he has lived through the moments leading up to the cancellation and the immediate aftermath. An article came out on the Players Tribune yesterday where Gallinari documented his thoughts on that night and on the Coronavirus. I urge everybody to read this article as Danilo’s insights are both sad and very moving. The Players Tribune is usually a little inconsistent with the pieces that they publish, the ghost writing takes away from the sentiment that the athlete wishes to express. In this example, the writing is strong and Gallinari’s message gets across. The entire article will be linked at the end of this article but I have chosen to pull out a few quotations which I found to be poignant and insightful.

I felt like this was an important insight from this article, Gallinari’s personal experience stresses the point that the Coronavirus will affect everybody, young and old. It is scary and worrying to think that you might lose someone close to you and there is not even the possibility to say goodbye. The other item which I felt was noticeable from this extract was the general sense of panic and tension every time that Gallo picks up his phone. It must be stressful and alarming every time that Gallinari’s phone rings or buzzes, that must be difficult to live through on a day to day basis knowing that there could be bad news.

The Coronavirus has been difficult for many people to deal with and I thought it was telling that Chris Paul has been important in being a leader for the team. Paul’s leadership has been big for the Thunder all year on and off the court. From the day he arrived in Oklahoma City, he has made a point of forming a brotherhood with his team-mates, the type of relationship that he enjoyed with players like Tyson Chandler on the New Orleans Hornets. It was telling that the first thing Paul did when he arrived in Oklahoma was to get the contact details for all of his team-mates so he could start building those bonds.

The impact of his leadership has been noticeable on the young guys, Darius Bazley and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander have become little brothers to Chris as he schools them in the NBA. It is clear that he shares the same sort of connection with the other veteran players on the team, Danilo Gallinari has previously said that Chris Paul is one of his favourite team-mates. A lot has been made of Paul’s prickliness and willingness to make people a little uncomfortable but there has been very little talk about his loyalty to his guys. As a man, his character and desire to help others cannot be questioned, Chris is a pretty special person.

This final point came out of the last few paragraphs of the article and I thought it was an accurate point. The game of basketball preaches that teams need to face adversity and work hard to overcome the issues presented to them, it is the only way to be a champion. A team has to be able to fight through the dark times to get the results it wants. In a time like this, where the Coronavirus has created so much uncertainty and passing in the world, it is important to face the issues. The restrictions on daily life will not be easy by any means but as people, we need to overcome these problems in order to prevent Coronavirus from spreading even more.