Danilo Gallinari’s New York Knicks celebrated Italian Heritage Night at Madison Square Garden, as they hosted Andrea Bargnani’s Toronto Raptors. And the Knicks certainly put on a show, winning 127-97.

The question is, how can a Raptors team boasting José Calderon, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani and a newly added Shawn Marion lose to a Knicks rotation that only included eight players? With the recent trades made by Mike D’Antoni (another Italian connection) and his team, they had a roster of 11 that included inactives Eddy Curry (injury), Larry Hughes (recently traded) and Chris Wilcox (recently traded).

The answer came from the uptempo offensive schemes that D’Antoni is so famous for. Wilson Chandler put up a career high 32 points, whilst Nate “Kryptonate” Robinson added 26 off the bench.

Highlights of the game here:


In the spirit of the event, we should see what the Italian media had this to say about the whole Italian Heritage Night concept, which included player introductions in Italian and an array of Italian music.

National newspaper, La Repubblica commented (red and green added by me to commemorate the event):

L’hanno chiamata, un po’ pomposamente, l'”Italian Heritage Night”. C’era la banda di Little Italy, quella che suona alla festa di San Gennaro, con gli ottoni e i cappellini tricolori, c’era l’ambasciatore, diplomatici e politici, c’erano gli italiani che a New York ci vivono e quelli che nella Grande Mela erano di passaggio. Erano in tanti, dispersi tra le ventimila persone che ieri sera hanno riempito il Madison Square Garden per la sfida tra ‘Italians’ nel basket Nba. Da una parte i New York Knicks di Danilo Gallinari, detto il “Gallo”, dall’altra i Toronto Raptors di Andrea Bargnani, che i tifosi chiamano il “Mago”.

Essentially, they weren’t overly impressed with the whole event. The above translates roughly as follows:

They called it a little pompously, “The Italian Heritage Night.” There was the band of Little Italy, which plays the feast of San Gennaro, with the brass band and the tricolor (three colours of the Italian flag) hats, there was the ambassador, diplomats and politicians, there were the Italians in New York that live there and those who travelled to the Big Apple. There were many, scattered among the twenty thousand people last night that filled the Madison Square Garden for the challenge of ‘Italians’ in NBA basketball. On the one hand the New York Knicks Danilo Gallinari, known as “Gallo”, and on the other Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors, who supporters call the “Wizard”.

You have to remember that Americans are not that well perceived from across the Atlantic in Italy. There is often a perception that the USA does things in a tacky and over-the-top manner. Perhaps this was another example as such in the eyes of the Italians. Another article here at Basketcase blog (in Italian, translated by me) is similarly critical of the intentions of the NBA in this event.

Remember when Gallinari complained of the “vintage” soundtrack at the Garden in his early days as a Knick? Behold, now maybe we understand why. As rightly said today by Flores D’Arcais at ‘La Repubblica’, someone should explain to the NBA that Italy represented last night — Little Italy, the museum director of Italian-American songs of Toto Cotugno and marches by country festival – is not the Italy of today, certainly not the one from which Bargnani and Gallinari have come… 
In other words, Italy does not appreciate the fact that America still sees it as a country of Mafiosi and the Godfather. It didn’t help that Gallinari doesn’t play a big part with the Knicks either. As D’Arcais at La Repubblica went on to say:
The game is serious (the Knicks are fighting for a place in the play offs) and Gallinari, Italian Night or not, had to sit on the bench. So the challenge is pending between il Gallo and the Magician. For the first two quarters this was nothing more than a monologue by Bargnani, discrete but impotent in the face of the superiority of the Knicks who have closed the first half with a 75 to 50 advantage. And in the few minutes in which il Gallo was on the court, the Wizard looked at him in turn from the bench. 
Gallinari will have his time one day for success. However perhaps this attempt at international success by the NBA fell a little short.