By Nick Gibson of EuroleagueAdventures.com
BARCELONA — So you’ve played in the NBA before. That’s terrific.
The thing is, nobody in Europe really cares. The fans might enjoy the novelty, but your teammates aren’t impressed, your coaches won’t tie you to a longer leash, and management has a loophole at the ready whenever they feel like voiding your deal, which is most likely the heftiest on the books.
Being an NBA talent means just that: you’re talented. However, talent alone is not nearly enough to compete in what is now the world’s best functional basketball competition, the Euroleague. Only the savvy, disciplined and hyper- efficient players earn respect, and only experience creates stars.
So when Ty Lawson and Sonny Weems of Zalgiris squared off against Nenad Krstic and Andrei Kirilenko of CSKA Moscow in Monday’s Euroleague opener, it’s no shock that the Serb and the Russian shone more brightly.
For the NBAer playing his first European basketball game, this isn’t just another chapter in his career; it’s the first page of an empty novel.
How they stacked up:
1. Andrei Kirilenko, CSKA Moscow: 17 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 blocks and no turnovers and a 37 ranking in 32 minutes.
Can you imagine if he were getting paid?
2. Danilo Gallinari, Emporio Armani Milano: 23 points, 7 rebounds, 4 turnovers, 11 fouls drawn and a 28 ranking in 34 minutes.
During his rookie year with the Knicks, 58 percent of his shots were threes. The next season that number dropped to 53, then 47 and finally 39 percent with the Nuggets in the Post-Melo-Deal Era.
While the threes were seeping out of his arsenal, Danilo started Eurostepping his way to the free throw line more and more, topping out at 6.3 attempts per game in 62 games last season (48 with New York, 14 of them with Denver).
Since tiptoeing into the league as Mike D’Antoni’s pet project back in 2008, Gallo has turned himself into a real live basketball player. Still, only twice in 171 NBA games had Gallinari ever found himself at the stripe as often as he did yesterday, when he made 13 of his 16 tries to lead Milano—along with Malik Hairston’s 25 points—to a humongous, tone-setting 89-82 victory over Maccabi Electra.
After one game in Italy, it doesn’t look like the Euroleague is going to soften him up any.
3. Rudy Fernandez, Real Madrid: 19 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a 13 ranking in 29 minutes of a 100-76 victory over Belgacom Spirou.
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