Forward Danilo Gallinari was a key piece of the Oklahoma City Thunder and their incredible playoff run in 2019-20 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Gallinari, the Italian-born player who was drafted by the New York Knicks with the sixth overall pick back in 2008, played his first season with the Thunder last year and averaged 18.7 punte, 5.2 rebounds, en 1.9 assists per game, to help lead Oklahoma City to a 44-28 record and the fifth seed in the loaded Western Conference.
Having a team who proactively looks out for your best interest is a key point to starting your career off on the right professional and financial foot. As part of his team, Gallinari works with Goldman Sachs Wealth Management and spoke with Fox News on Tuesday.
Gallinari reflected on his draft experience in 2008, a class that featured Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Love, and he talked about what the bubble was like down in Orlando, Florida this summer.
Here is Gallinari’s full Q&A with Fox News.
Fox News: With the NBA Draft coming up on Wednesday, what kind of advice would you give to your younger self if you were going through that draft process right now?
Danilo Gallinari: “Well, the first thing is that it’s an amazing process. And you need to enjoy every moment. Those moments are going to stay with you for the rest of your life. And those are moments that you’re going to talk about for the rest of your life with your family and friends. And be ready for anything. The NBA is sometimes a crazy business, and we’ve seen crazy trades and crazy stuff happening the same night of the draft. But it’s just an amazing time.”
Fox News: What do you remember from your draft night?
Danilo Gallinari: “I remember that it was crazier for me than anybody else. Because when you get drafted by the New York Knicks, it’s something else. I remember that everybody went to dinner around 9 nm., and I went to dinner at 1 am. because I had to do TV and radio, and I went from building to building around Madison Square Garden. I got to the restaurant and they kept it open for me because my family and my agent were there. But it was pretty crazy in New York.”
Fox News: You were a part of a draft class that featured Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, and Brook Lopez. What stands out to you most about your class? And at that time did you think any of these guys would be any good?
Danilo Gallinari: “Well, that summer I was practicing a lot with Russell Westbrook and Derrick Rose. And spending time with them every day, you could see that they are something special. It’s just an amazing class. I think from what the experts say, they say it’s one of the best drafts in the history of the game. Which I agree. And I’m very glad that a lot of players are still playing because that means they were able to sustain the NBA schedule and the games.”
Fox News: Why do you think it’s important for players to be involved in their communities?
Danilo Gallinari: “I think it’s not just important, it’s crucial, I would say. It’s something that we need to do as players. Giving back is key. And especially because of the reactions and feelings that you get after you give back. Eerlikwaar, that feeling is better than winning a game. When you see the smile on a kid’s face, or on a family’s face, it’s just a great feeling. And the fact that we are so lucky to have the chance to help somebody else, I think everybody that is in our position should do it every year and every day. And they should get help from the franchises that they play for because they have a lot of charities and they work with a lot of different companies. Vir my, it was a key thing to do since day one.”
Fox News: How was your bubble experience in Orlando? And what do you make of your team’s incredible playoff run after many so-called experts wrote you off prior to the season?
Danilo Gallinari: “Well, I will have to say that those experts talking about basketball, they think they’re experts, but I don’t know about that. They’ve been missing the results and their expectations for two years in a row with me. Because when I was in Los Angeles, they told us we were going to win 33 speletjies, and we went to the playoffs and even won two games against Golden State. And now this miracle season in Oklahoma City, they gave us not even 33 wen. They weren’t even considering us. We didn’t just make the playoffs, but we finished fifth and we could have won Game 7 against Houston. In my mind, I don’t consider those guys experts.
“The bubble was an amazing experience. Considering the time the NBA had to organize everything, they did an amazing job. Everything was under control. We had a lot of fun, and we were very safe, which was the main goal. Other than the fact that you couldn’t see your families, everything else was running perfectly.”
Fox News: Does Italy still play a role in your life? And how much of a change was it to go from Italy to the United States at such a young age?
Danilo Gallinari: “Well, Italy is huge for me. I’ve been going back every summer, not just to see my family, but play with the Italian National Team. So, Italy plays a huge role in my life. It will always play a huge role in my life. This summer was actually the first summer in 13 years that I didn’t go back to my country. So, it was tough, but the situation is what it is. I’m very proud to be Italian. And I can’t wait honestly to go back and spend time with my family and friends.
“I think it was a huge change for the culture, but especially for the NBA with the schedule. I was used to playing one or two games a week, and then all of a sudden you come to the NBA, and you’re playing three or four times a week. So, the schedule plays a huge role and it’s very different. I started living by myself since I was 14 jaar oud. So, it was not a huge step in terms of having a new life and adapting to a new city or new country, but for my job, for the NBA and for the schedule, it was tough.”