Through Danilo’s Eyes

By Paris Lawson | Digital Content Reporter |

In May, Danilo Gallinari joined the Thunder Basketball Universe podcast to share his unique perspective on the path of the coronavirus pandemic. The native Italian discussed how it affected his family overseas and in Denver, and how he’s choosing to remain positive through the most uncertain of times.

Latest Thunder Basketball Universe Podcast, @gallinari8888 offers his unique perspective on the global pandemic, how he’s staying connected to family and teammates and his walking habits in OKC.

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— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) May 1, 2020

Danilo Gallinari had a unique point of view as the trajectory of the coronavirus unfolded throughout the United States. As an NBA veteran, a restaurant owner and a native of one of the hardest hit areas, northern Italy, the effects of the pandemic have impacted him on multiple fronts.

Gallinari’s home country had been battling the pandemic for weeks before the NBA went on hiatus and stay at home orders were in place. He had been tracking the severity of the pandemic for quite some time while the team was on road trips and in the heat of the season. By day, the Thunder power forward was averaging 19.2 points per game and snatching down 5.5 rebounds as part of a team who had been gaining sizable momentum and attention going into the postseason. By night, Gallinari was a concerned Italian citizen constantly tracking the progression of the devastation the novel coronavirus was causing in his home country.

So on March 11, when the NBA declared that the Thunder’s home game against the Utah Jazz be postponed and later suspended the season, Gallinari’s thoughts immediately shifted to the virus.

“Everything hit me when we stopped the game,” Gallinari said on the Thunder Basketball Universe podcast in May. “That’s when my mind started thinking about ‘Oh, this is going to be big’ and ‘this is related to the virus.’ ”

As a veteran on the Thunder roster, he looked to offer as much leadership as he could to his teammates in the locker room by answering as many questions a he could. Although still unsure of what the outcome would look like, Gallinari was no stranger to what the virus was capable of.

The wake of the pandemic didn't slow down for Gallinari even though basketball was put on pause. While he remained in Oklahoma City, his family faced different realities due to COVID-19 in different parts of the globe.

Gallinari’s brother and father resided in Denver running the restaurant he owns called PASTA PASTA PASTA. Over the course of the pandemic, like many establishments, the restaurant was forced to shift strictly to deliveries and takeout as social distancing measures heightened. The duo worked six days a week to sustain business and fulfill orders and on several occasions, they made special food deliveries to hospitals in the area.

“It’s great because we are in a position to help people that need to eat. At the same time business-wise it’s not good for any restaurant. It’s a tough business already but especially in this situation, it’s tough for everybody,” Gallinari said.

Meanwhile, over eight thousand miles away, Gallinari’s mother is in Italy along with his grandparents. Due to restrictions within the country, his mother was unable to see family nearby and must stay at home except for short walks around her building. Admittedly, it had been tough knowing that his mother was by herself and unable to see her parents but as Gallinari noted, the most important thing was that everyone was in good health.

While it had been over four months since Danilo has seen his mother in person, daily calls and video chats helped to ease the pain a little bit because “at the end of the day, all mom wants is to look at you every day even if it’s on a screen.”

If a day went by where there wasn't a call between the two, Gallinari said he got a subtle text the next day from his mom wondering what is going on. Because of this, even if there isn’t much to talk about, Gallinari made sure his mom always got a call.

“We find ways to talk about stuff every day … with your mom, you always find ways to talk about stuff,” Gallinari said.

All the while, the Thunder sharpshooter remained optimistic that the world will get through this. From joking with his teammates on video calls to donating testing kits to the Oklahoma City Health Department, Gallinari’s focus has been on the good.

“You only get one life, right? One life is way too short to be pessimistic, so you’ve got to be positive and optimistic,” Gallinari said. “You don’t have time to put yourself down or think about negative stuff.”

This is the mantra that Gallinari holds dearly in every facet of his life right now – as a player, a business owner and a son. It’s something he has tried to impart to everyone, including his mom.

“We’re going to get through it,” Gallinari said. “Sooner or later, we are going to get through it.”

As a player and NBA veteran, it's also something he will look to relay to his team as they resume their season in Orlando and try to recapture that same promising momentum they built back in March. In an entirely new and unprecedented environment excluded from all connections with the outside world, Gallinari's optimism and eye for the good will continue to be increasingly valuable for the Thunder throughout its time in Orlando.

"The good thing is we’re not going to have a lot of distractions. It’s really going to be only be about basketball and getting ready for practicing and playing so many games that I think that everybody, after a little bit, is going to adjust and it’s going to be second nature," said Gallinari.

"At the end of the day we’re going to be playing basketball almost every day. That’s what we do, that’s what we love to do."


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