Almost every guy I grew up with was exactly like this.
Sure, the video is funny. But more than that, it’s authentic. These are real, live guidos who don’t even know how foolish they are. They think they sound awesome! I know this because I know guidos. I’ve practically got a PhD in guidology from growing up on Staten Island, which allowed me to observe them in their natural habitat; The Staten Island Mall, Midland Beach, Bay Street. My next door neighbors growing up were the Spezio’s and the Mussarella’s, and halfway up the block were the Dondiego’s, who would host huge parties on Sundays where the entire family would bust out guitars, clarinets and accordians and play Italian folk music while they crushed grapes in the backyard. I wish I were kidding. My first “girlfriend” was Paul Castellano’s niece. I wish I were kidding about that too. My adolescence was exactly like “The Sopranos,” only with the world’s largest garbage dump and higher taxes.
I hopped around the more cultured parts of Brooklyn after college, but somehow as an adult I wound up settling in a guido infested neighborhood. I live in Bay Ridge, where most of “Saturday Night Fever” was filmed, where steroid abuse and spray tans for men are still in vogue, and where guidos continue to cruise 86th Street in IROC-Z’s on Saturday nights, stopping by L&B Spumoni Gardens for a square slice. (I can’t say I blame them, cuz that shit is the bomb.) I guess I’ve never been able to escape my roots.
All of this navel gazing is the background to why I have a man crush on Knicks rookie Danilo Gallinari, aka “The Italian Stallion,” aka “The Rooster.”
When you grow up surrounded by Italians, it’s easy to make fun of the stereotypes, but even easier to develop a strong bond with the culture. When the Knicks used the sixth pick to draft Gallinari, just 19 at the time, out of Italy, I knew I would love him because he’d remind me of the gindaloons I’ve always known. If he could play it would be a bonus. He offered one tantalizing glimpse in his first and only Summer League game when he recovered from an awful first half to put up 14 points and 6 boards in the second half. Then he hurt his back and missed the rest of the summer and the whole preseason.
Despite missing all that time, new Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni – who despite his Great Western looks and demeanor is actually a fellow paisan who played with Gallinari’s father in the Italian professional league – threw The Rooster into the first two games of the season. Bad idea. He wound up re-injuring that back and missed the next 36 games. But he finally made his full-fledged debut last week, and now I actually have something to hang my crush on (besides those full, pouty lips.) He can play!
The Knicks haven’t had a big guy with this skill set since… well, ever. He’s 6’10” and can shoot, pass and dribble with the best of them. On Friday night he set up Al Harrington under the rim with a gorgeous no-look pass, then followed it up with a behind-the-back dribble drive from the baseline for a layup. Swoon. That was the Knicks third win in a row, but they lost the next night in Philly in part because Gallinari isn’t allowed to play in back-to-back games because of his back problems. He’s been getting 10 points a game in 12-15 minutes, and you have to figure he would’ve made a difference if he played. And beyond what he brings to the court, from a fan perspective, let’s just say I wasn’t nearly as psyched to watch the game when I heard he wouldn’t be playing. Keith’s mileage may vary.
My forbidden love for Gallinari led me to do something I hadn’t previously mustered any enthusiasm for; I signed him to IKH’s Beef Wennington roster in my first ever fantasy basketball transaction. I was worried someone else would see his potential, and I just wouldn’t be able to live with myself if another team had him. I’m a diehard Knicks fan and an honest to goodness guidophile – those other losers would just be looking at his field goal percentage and upside. They don’t deserve him like I do. All that stats shit is a nice side benefit, but I actually want to root for the guys on my squad. It won’t look too shabby either when he starts putting up 16 ppg, 5 rbs, 3.5 assists, 2 steals and a block per game. Which he will. And when he puts on another 15 pounds of muscle and learns the league, watch out. LeBron and D-Wade are going to LOVE playing with this guy in 2010.
(Just to save you the time, please don’t start with that “he’s soft” bullshit. We all know from watching the Italian soccer team play that these guys aren’t soft. They lie, cheat, complain and flop, but it’s all an act. They’re actually tough as nails. I’ve already seen The Rooster get hammered and get right up with a big, dumb smile on his face, so I know this guy’s got that certain meathead quality inherent in all Italian athletes. And I mean “meathead” in the absolute best sense of the word, if there is such a thing.)
If all of this isn’t enough to convince Keith to keep Gallinari on our roster, he’s got personality too. He actually complained to the MSG suits last week because they were playing “That’s Amore” and “Volare” on the PA whenever he scored a hoop, and the announcer was using an exaggerated Italian accent to pronounce his name “Daneeeelo Gaallllllinaaaaari.” I think the PA guy might have punctuated his calls with “That’s-ah spicy meatball!” too, but I was so drunk on sambuca I may have imagined it. Either way, the kid’s got balls to point that out to management.
To sum it up, this is a guy all of New York City can get behind, especially the guinea part. So I’m firing up the red, white and green bandwagon for Danilo Gallinari, who from now on I will only refer to as My Guido. He will skyrocket to stardom. And if he doesn’t, at least I’ll be able to mine him for cheap Italian insults, which is almost as good.