How Real Fans Feel About the Newest Italian in NY
It's true. The reaction in the Garden last night when NBA Commissioner David Stern announced the Knicks had drafted the little-seen-on-these-shores Italian basketball prodigy Danilo Gallinari was a long and lusty "BOOOOOOOO". It is true. That happened. But, I think that most fans were just caught in the heat of the moment and faced with a player that they had never seen before and whose name they can't spell or pronounce. I really think that given some time, even just a few hours, Knicks fans will come to love this high upside small forward from the boot-shaped peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean.
To test this theory I hit the pavement earlier today to find some real folks in and around New York City and ask them how they really feel about the city's most recent Italian immigrant. Here's what they had to say:
Lives: Bayside, Queens
Reaction: "I couldn't be more excited about this guy if I had fireballs coming outta my fists and a dragon parked on the corner! Ya know what I mean? But seriously. This paisan is long, athletic 3 who knows how to fill up a box score like I know how to unclog the Princess's pipes. Ya know what I'm sayin'?"
Name: Tony Soprano
Occupation: Waste Management Consultant
Residence:North Caldwell, NJ
Reaction: "Well. I mean, first of all, it is an honor to see a fine Italian boy doing good for himself today. It's hard out there for Italians to come to this country. No one is going to give you anything. You gotta take it. And, you know, this Gallinero, he's a good kid, from a decent family. He's not another one of these...he's not a...he's a not a thug or some hoodlum with a bling and a posse that I can't bring my own son to watch. When they play against the Nets in East Rutherford. This Danny is a good kid. His father was a ballplayer and he's growing just like his ol' man. That how it's supposed to be in a strong family. With Italians."
Name: Famous Ray
Occupation: Owner of a chain of pizzerias
Residence: 34 Mulberry Street, New York City
Reaction: "Oh, I just cant-a-believe it. New York City now has the "il Gallo" of Milan. In America! To play the basketballs. He will eat a free dinner in restaurant every night he come by."
Name: Il Popa
Occupation: Peter's old job
Residence: Vatican City, Rome
Reaction: "I haven't seen anyone with this much determination since my youth in Germany."
Names: Fernando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti
Residence: Recently relocated to 183rd and Bathgate in the Bronx from Massachusetts
Reaction: "With a boy so young you must pray that being thrown in to the money in America doesn't corrupt him. That he doesn't let himself forget his people who are being abused in this place."
Occupation: Plumber (retired)
Residence: Luigi's Mansion, Westchester, NY
Reaction: "My elder sibling telephoned the mansion as soon as the Knickerbockers selected this young fellow. Mario was prattling on about his upside potential, something called second jumpability and his importance to Italian Americans. To be honest, I stopped following basketball after I left the family business. It all seems a bit provincial to me. With the teams hailing from various locales. I prefer to spend my leisure time attending auctions of fine art -which is what brings me to Manhattan this fine Friday - or golfing at the Westchester Country Club, which, of course, would never had admitted me had they seen my swarthy plumbing brother. Heavens no! They must never meet him."
Name: Mike Piazza
Occupation: Professional baseball player (retired)
Reaction: "If this guy can buckle-down and work hard. Mmmmm. Buckle-down. Hard. Um, if this young sculpted man-child can do those things night after night after night then he is going to have a great time in this city. Trust me. There's no better place to be an Italian than in New York. Everyone opens up there arms to you. Especially in my new neighborhood. I'd be happy to show him around. It can be lonely to be a famous handsome young man in this city. That's why us Italians have to stick together. Close together. Danilo, call me. Please."
Names: "We're just a few guys out. That's all"
Occupations: "Don't worry 'bout it. Let's just say the rent is paid in cash and on time."
Residence: "Somewhere that you ain't never been to. And you won't ever go to, if you know what's good for you."
Reaction: "I ain't never heard a no Gallinari. You guys heard of any Gallinari out of Milan? No. Alright then, why don't you just forget ya ever even asked us about Danilo since none of us ever even known the guy. Or his old man. Capiche!."
Well, I think that WWOD? got to the bottom of this one. There are some New Yorkers that are definitely eager to welcome Danilo Gallinari to the Knicks.