December 12, 2010 was the first time I ever really watched one of your games. The Denver Nuggets came to New York to play the Knicks and, boldly (to my recollection) you stated that you'd proudly guard Carmelo Anthony. It was a confident statement that, as a Nuggets fan I didn't much appreciate. Who is this Danilo Gallinari steppin up to Melo? While our erstwhile superstar ended up with 31 in that game, you drew the foul on Melo in the closing minutes that sealed the deal for the Knicks. Well, we Nuggets fans shouted that it was a flop at the top of our lungs ... to no avail. Knicks won their eighth straight that afternoon.
The next game game I saw you play was three days later against the Boston Celtics. It was an ESPN game, and there was talk of a renewed Knicks/Celtics rivalry. I called my buddy Nate Timmons and we watched the game and commented on what we saw. We had extra motivation for these discussions considering that Melo refused to sign the contract extension that the Nuggets offered him. The writing, even in December, seemed to be on the wall for the Nuggets. The long, cold, hard slog of rebuilding lay ahead of us as Nuggets fans. We heard that Melo only wanted to go to the Knicks, so Nate and I were watching a neutral game to see what was up.
I remember remarking to Nate that you were the standout guy that I saw. I saw someone who could be a star in this league. Gut instinct coupled with a fervent desire to not return to the bad old days of Denver Nuggets basketball (ask Tim Gelt about the late 1990's with the Nuggets, he will let you know). So I thought, that's the guy. Nate, meanwhile thought your buddy Wilson Chandler was the prize. We were both probably hoping that if Melo forced his way to NY then one of you would be our savior.
Fast forward to December 12, 2014. This season man ... this season. Let's put your injury aside for a moment and talk about where you are at. Let's talk about your struggles, which are very real. Gone is George Karl, who highly valued your basketball IQ. Gone is Masai Ujiri, who was the one who brought you to Denver. In comes a new general manager and new coach. Everything is new, and you are asked to prove yourself all over again.
Is it fair? No. Is it reality? Yes, very much so.
19 months away from basketball is tough, and the mental strain of trying to replicate your career year in 2012-13 has to be enormously difficult. Add on to the fact that you are coming off the bench and receiving very few minutes. The pressure has be be greater than you've ever felt as a professional. You feel like you have to be perfect, or else you'll get the quick hook. Meanwhile you hurt worse than you've ever felt after games because your body hasn't played for so long. You are recovering from ACL surgery still and after the game you feel like someone ran over you with a truck.
If I was to give you one message, and one message only from someone who has spoken to you frequently and has seen the ice bags wrapped around your legs in the locker room, it would be this:
Stop thinking ... just do.
I admire your unselfishness Gallo, and I think it's all too rare for someone to be as committed to being a team player, at all times. However, if ever the Nuggets needed you to think about yourself, it's now. While we all know you are struggling physically ... your tendency to not shoot when you feel you are struggling may be limiting your ability to get your rhythm back. While your limited minutes haven't helped, you really do need to help yourself. Stop thinking and just do. Don't let your instinct to "do other things" take over. JUST DO IT!
You are in a second unit right now. Yes, I'm aware that may take some getting used to ... but you are, by far, the best player on the second unit. They can't afford to have you playing at half speed. Keep shooting. Keep driving to the hole. Don't worry about what the coach thinks of you doing that. At some level, Brian Shaw has to understand you are greater than what you have shown so far this season.
At this point it's about playing through the pain, the frustration, the confusion and the spiraling negative thoughts. Easy for me to say right? Yeah, I guess it is. I've never dealt with an ACL injury and I sure as hell don't play professional basketball. What's concerning is seeing the struggle mentally. I can see it's far worse than you'd initially imagined. While they said you had a bone bruise, I think the larger issue is simply getting back to where you enjoy your time on the court.
Why am I saying all this? Because I'm simply a fan who above all wants to see both the Nuggets and you succeed. I've taken alot of flack for my belief in you, but it is what it is. Just remember that the team responds best when you shut out the noise in your own head and just DO. When you come back from this bone bruise, I hope you have a renewed resolve to to stop the haters and the vultures who a circling high above you. You deserve better than that and the Nuggets need you clicking if they are to make the playoffs.
You see Gallo. The Nuggets NEED you to be the Rooster that we remember in order to make the playoffs. The Nuggets can't afford anything less.
In the meantime, watch this video below of your game against Brian Shaw's Indiana Pacers in 2013. In fact, maybe show this video to your coach to remind him of what you can do. A refresher course. This is the Gallo that everyone wants to see, can you do it? Can you shut out the noise and just DO? Only time will tell. Hopefully my belief in you will manifest itself in reality yet again. December 12, 2010 is when I decided you were what the Nuggets needed. Maybe now is when you understand just how much that means.