Danilo Gallinari and Nicolas Batum held a question and answer session with the players at adidas Eurocamp on Tuesday, and the event covered a variety of topics. The most interesting dialogue came from Gallinari, as he explained to the players what it’s like to transition from playing in Europe to playing in the NBA.
Essentially, Gallinari told them that any respect at the NBA level has to be earned, and that professional players in the states tend to make it tough on their European counterparts.
“It’s tough for European players to go to the NBA, because you have to earn your respect,” he said. “They don’t respect you at the beginning. They say, ‘Who is this guy? He’s coming here to get our jobs.’ So you’ve got to earn the respect. From the first practice, they’re going to hit you, and do everything to make you sit on the bench (so they can) play. That’s normal.
“At the beginning it’s tough for us because you are a very good player in Europe, but you are nobody in the states. And they know you very well. They come here, they scout, they have everything. They write down your left hand, your right hand, what you do, what you don’t do. So when you get there, they have information, but that information — it can be true, or it can be not true. Once you go on the court, you’ve got to show what you did when they came to Italy (to see you).”
Gallinari also had some interesting things to say to the players about his start with the New York Knicks, and specifically about what then-head coach Mike D’Antoni told him about how he could fit in with the team’s offense.
“In my case, it was very funny because when I was in Europe, I was playing in a system where you do this, (then) you do this, and (then) you do your thing. You go in and out of the things that you do better. When I got to the states I was playing for Mike D’Antoni, and in our offensive system, every ball you catch, you’ve got to either shoot it, or do something. You’ve got to make things happen.
“For me it was very difficult in New York, because I was running up and down the court and I was not receiving the ball. After 10, 15 games I went to Mike and said, ‘What the f—? I run to the corners and I never get the ball.’ So he told me, ‘Whenever you have that ball, you have to shoot it. I don’t care. You get the ball, you shoot it, you do whatever you want. I will never say not to shoot.’ You get in that mentality, and the ball was getting to me. I was still running to the corner, but the ball was getting to me. I don’t know why.”
Now, that doesn’t exactly make D’Antoni sound like an offensive genius. But there was a lesson in there somewhere about communicating with your NBA head coach if you’re having issues, and then following his advice.