Gallinari's Back Gives NY Drama It's Lacked

I would like to personally congratulate the New York Knicks on a pronounced lack of drama, or scandal, in Mike D'Antoni's first season as coach. You know, it's supposed to be hard to deal with the Gotham glare, D'Antoni's style leaves him open to all sorts of criticism, and plus he's from West Virginia. He kind of talks like Randy Johnson, who so couldn't handle the big city media that he flipped out and punched a journalist. Go back to the hills, high-speed bumpkin! ↵
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↵Up to this point, though, Year One has been productive, if not inspiring. Marbury, Crawford, and Randolph are gone. Eddy Curry has, sadly, been reduced to a shell of a man, and is more about sympathy than distraction at this point. David Lee's emerged as an All-Star-caliber big-ish man; Nate Robinson has achieved a level of maturity. The city's learning to accept that it probably won't get LeBron or Wade (I'm tell you, it's Carmelo). And wonder of all wonders, the Knicks are still vaguely in the hunt for that eighth playoff seed, which could do wonders for morale -- even if it involves just getting thrashed in a highly-rated series by King James. ↵
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↵But the loan rough patch has been the development of lottery pick Danilo Gallinari. The Italian rookie has shown flashes, caught the eyes of his teammates, and looked like a key piece in the brave new D'Antoni-zed future. Except he's had back issues for some time, and now they're starting to look serious. These days, Gallinari's minutes are being limited, and he "avoid[s] sitting on the bench, which puts pressure on the lower back and can leak disc fluid. More dire possibilities, from The New York Post: ↵
↵⇥Gallinari first injured his back in early July while training for the summer-league. Eight months later, the pain was still there … "I would fear it's degenerative,'' [a chiropractor consulted for the story] added. "That it's more than one disc involved. If so, he could have chronic lower back problems for his career. A 19, 20-year-old with a disc problem should heal a lot faster than a 32-year-old.'' ↵⇥
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↵⇥If he has a degenerative disc disease -- as it's called -- Gallinari could be plagued with this his entire career. At best, he may never fulfill his All-Star potential -- Donnie Walsh compared him to Larry Bird the other day. At worst, his career is shortened. ↵
↵Again, this is highly speculative. But Gallinari is back in Italy weighing the surgery option. When he's been on the floor, the young Danilo has shown enough to escape the wrath of the journalistic throng. And not coincidentally, as Andrea Bargnani blossoms in Toronto, even New York might be seeing the virtue of a little patience with Italian teens. But suppose the media's gone relatively easy on D'Antoni and his Knicks, a veritable bullet dodged by one of the best in the business. Now, maybe we should start getting worried about a promising career that may never get off the ground.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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