Danilo Gallinari has given advice to the London-bound New York Knicks and Washington Wizards saying that they should enjoy the city and spend some time experiencing London.
Q: You played in London a few years ago with the Nuggets, what was that experience like for the team? How do you feel about coming up against Denver this Saturday as part of NBA Saturdays?
Gallinari: The game in London was an amazing experience. We won the game but the experience of spending three or four days in London was amazing for me and my teammates. It’s definitely something that I would like to do again. Denver are looking really good at the moment – they are one of the best teams in the league. They have very good players with very good chemistry. The players and the coach have been working together for many years so their chemistry is excellent. It will be a great game on Saturday especially as we lost the very first game against them so we’re motivated to win the second one.
Q: You mentioned coming to London a few years ago, what would you say to with Wizards and the Knicks who are coming in January? What do they have to look forward to?
Gallinari: The game is very important but they need to spend time in the city of London, going around the city and trying to experience as much as they can in London, that’s the most important thing, it will make the trip really worthwhile and then they can enjoy the game because the O2 will be packed and it will be an international crowd so it will be nice for them.
Q: What do you make of the Clippers start to this season?
Gallinari: We had a very good start to the season but every team tends to go through a period of a couple of weeks or a month where they don’t do so well and that seems to be happening to us right now. In our last two games we played a little bit better so hopefully we can build on that. we have some home games coming up so we will look to get some wins from them.
Q: What’s been missing from the Clippers side so far this season?
Gallinari: Our defense was very good at the start of the season and now it’s so so which is the main difference between now and the start of the season. We have to get back to playing better defense for the whole game rather than just a few stretches.
Q: What’s the secret to staying healthy this season?
Gallinari: The main thing is that I’m happy and healthy and my yoga and martial arts training is something that I’ve been doing for four or five years so that helps a lot. Being healthy is the most important thing for an NBA player.
Q: When you were growing up do you think it would have made a difference having more Italians playing in the NBA? What impact do you think you and the other Italians in the league can have?
Gallinari: I don’t know if it would have made a difference. Maybe if there were more Italians in the past then the NBA would be even more famous in Italy. Me and Marco [Belinelli] are the two Italians in the league at the moment and we can hopefully set the tone for the new generations and be good role models for them.
Q: What are your expectations when it comes to the Playoffs, All-Star etc?
Gallinari: The most important thing this season is to get to the Playoffs. To get to the post-season is mine and the team’s focus and that’s where we want to be come the end of the season.
Q: He was your rookie when he came into the league. Do you think he’s an MVP candidate?
Gallinari: He’s playing extremely well. He’s a very good player and offensively he is great. He can play outside, inside and with both hands. He has an amazing court vision and he’s definitely up there with the best and he’s playing at such a high level so right now he’s definitely at All-Star level.
Q: Do you feel like you are part of the golden age of international players in the NBA?
Gallinari: Yes, the game has definitely become more global with Europe growing more than any other place in the world. When I first came into the league there were not as many international players as there are now. The international players are growing and growing. It’s great for the NBA and basketball in general.
Q: What are you and the team hoping to achieve in the coming month? You face some imposing teams?
Gallinari: The next couple of weeks are key for us as we haven’t had a good stretch lately so to finish the month strong is important. To finish the season with a good record we need to win all the games coming up as we are facing the top teams in the league like Golden State and the Lakers. The Lakers is always an emotional game as a local rival so it is a key point in the season for us.
Who will be the next Italian to join the NBA?
Great question, I don’t really know. There will be somebody for sure sooner or later, I don’t know who, but there will be somebody.
Q: What does Coach Rivers bring to the Clippers as a team?
He’s a great coach because he knows how to manage the game and he knows how to manage players. He is a coach who is very straightforward, he will tell you what you need to do and when you do something wrong, he will tell you straight away. All these things together make him a very good coach that has won titles and knows what it takes to win.
Q: There have been a lot of rumours in the last month about your teammate Milos Teodosic returning to Europe, what do you think about that? Would you recommend him coming to the Olympia Milano?
Milos has been playing more minutes lately and he has played very well for us every time he has played. We can use him more and more so I’m hopeful that he will stay with us. He’s a great guy and we have a very good relationship so hopefully he can stay with us for the whole season.
Q: Tobias Harris has won player of the month in the western conference and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is playing fantastically well as your starting point guard. What can you tell us about these guys?
Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander] is going to go be a very good player. He has been playing very good for us and that’s great for us because you never know about a rookie. We saw at the training camp that he was going to be good for us straight away. Tobias [Harris] is a real pro, he works very hard in the gym, he takes care of his body very well and he is very focused and he’s a very good player, they’ve both been doing a great job for us.
Q: Do you think Tobias Harris will be an All-Star?
I hope so because he has a chance to be that kind of player and he’s a great guy too.
Q: Do you think you will be in China for the World Cup next September?
I hope so. I’ve never played in the World Cup and it would be a dream come true.
Q: How is LA and what do you miss most about Denver?
I like LA, it’s a great city. I was in Denver for many years so I have a lot of close friends there and that’s the part that I miss the most, the friends and the people that I know there.
Q: You take on Denver this Saturday, what are their key strengths as a team and what do you have to stop them doing well in order to triumph on Saturday?
First if all they have a lot of good players with a very good chemistry as they are a group of players who have been playing together for a while. They play to their strengths and even if they have some injuries the players that are playing more minutes are very good. That’s their strength right now, they play very good defense too and especially when they play at home in Denver it is tough to win against them.
Q: The NBA have just opened their first ever store in Europe in Milan and next month we have the NBA London Game. Have European NBA fans got closer to the game in recent years?
The game has become more global and the NBA has become closer to Europe because it’s easier to access the NBA to see the games and especially the move by the NBA to open the store in Milan, for me being from there, is just amazing. It’s great for European fans and it’s great for Italian fans, it was a great move.
NBA Saturdays on Sky Sports – part of a record 42 Primetime games live on Sky Sports starting from 8:30pm every weekend. This week on 22 December the LA Clippers host the Denver Nuggets on Sky Sports Arena from 10pm.