Basketball usually takes a backseat to soccer in Italy, but when Danilo Gallinari and Coach Mike D’Antoni lead the New York Knicks against Armani Jeans Milano in Milan this Sunday, all eyes will be on hoops at least for a day.
“Milan and all of Italy likes these kinds of events so everyone is going to be following the game,” said Gallinari, who was drafted by the Knicks out of Italy two years ago and has excelled so far in his short NBA career.
The 22-year-old Gallinari began playing professional basketball in Italy at the age of 15 and was acquired by Armani Jeans Milano in 2005. Gallinari’s father, Vittorio, also played professionally in Italy and was a teammate of D’Antoni, who led Olimpia Milano to five Italian League titles and two Euroleague championships.
“Playing in my hometown where I grew up is something special and unbelievable,” Gallinari said. “I’m so happy to be here and proud to play the game.”
Gallinari said he bought “a lot” of tickets for friends and family.
“It will be exciting for him to play for the first time in the NBA in front of his friends and family,” D’Antoni said. “For him it should be a real special moment.”