I'll admit it, I cried a little after I saw the play. That one, single, play.
With 4 minutes left in the second quarter on Thursday, April 4th -- against the Dallas Mavericks, Danilo Gallinari drove the lane like he always does, put his left leg down to jump stop and his knee bend the wrong way. Gallo collapsed the the ground hold his knee in obvious pain. Pepsi Center deflated like an old balloon.
For me, the worst part about watching Gallo's injury was the look of panic on his face. As a human being that is hard to deal with. Whats more, as someone said last night, Gallo just seems to be a good guy who just happens to play basketball. His teammates obviously love him, and based on Wilson Chandler's reaction last night (read in Nate's recap of the game) Gallo's injury made some teammates distraught. This is understandable.
For all the crap Gallo get's from Nuggets fans at times, I know that deep down they know that he is a good guy. This, I believe fully game into realization after the Nuggets game in Utah on Wednesday night. After Gallo hits a big three point shot in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets bench erupted in a very Italian celebration for Gallo who responded in kind. It was one of those moments where you couldn't help but smile. Watch it here:
Gallinari's Three-Pointer: Bellissimo! (via NBA)
With due respect, I believe that was the moment the city of Denver finally embraced what Gallinari means to this Denver team. An entire bench celebrating in a way that is specific to Gallo, and the feeling of team was never better. Was one of the better moments I've experienced covering the Nuggets for Denver Stiffs the last three years.
You know what? There's no reason for that to change.
If this Nuggets team folds under the emotional pressure of losing Gallinari, I will be deeply disappointed. This is the time for the team, and Nuggets fans, to rise up and overcome. There's no reason Wilson Chandler, who has been the people's champion for a month, to not step in ably. There's no reason Corey Brewer can't go off on any given night. If Ty Lawson comes back, who knows what will happen? Will JaVale McGee repeat his performance against the Lakers in last years' playoffs?
We also have the emergence of Fourplay, Evan Fournier. His maturity is beyond his years and while still a rookie has benefited the Nuggets greatly with his aggressive play. Andre Iguodala needs to concentrate primarily on defense and quit worrying so much about his offense, it will come from other places. Shut down the other teams' best scorer and you will be doing more than you ever could on offense. Additionally, Andre Miller needs to play within himself and carry this team emotionally on his back. While his defense has always been suspect, he showed that he truly is the most mature Nuggets player by willing the team to victory against the Mavs after Gallo went down.
Hopefully Ty Lawson will be back and be magic. If he's not, we've got Fourplay! Shhhhheeeeiiiit!
Point being, there's no excuse for despair. There's no excuse to be down in the dumps and wallowing in self pity. This is a TEAM. As you know, Gallo is my favorite player on this Nuggets team, but for me it has always been about the Nuggets. Period. Players come and go but the name I cheer for always remains the same. Gallo doesn't want us sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves does he?
With Gallo now out with a torn ACL, it's time for these Nuggets to step up. Don't sit around and mope! Don't carry on as if YOU are the injured person! Don't walk around as if the weight of the world has collapsed upon your shoulders. You know what, cheer for your team because they need you ... now more than ever. Nuggets players need to feel that you are 100% behind them.
So get behind whatever hashtag you feel. Turn on the Nuggets and scream at the television. Go down to Pepsi Center and get yourself a big ass foam finger! Get some Vodka lemonade and scream until you are hoarse. The Nuggets are about to enter the playoffs and they NEED you. Don't shy away because things are difficult. They need you and you need them. Go out and show them how much you care!
Twitter: @jmorton78 https://twitter.com/#!/jmorton78