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'I actually … was scared': Thunder's Danilo Gallinari recounts 'night that changed basketball forever'

Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari, in a Players' Tribune story headlined "The night that changed basketball forever," gave a behind-the-scenes account of what happened at Chesapeake Energy Arena on March 11. 

The Thunder-Jazz game was postponed and the NBA season was suspended after it became known that Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the coronavirus. 

"I’m always the first player from either team to take the court for the opening tip, and usually when I get out there the three refs are standing in the same spots every time — one at half court, and then one near each free throw line," Gallinari wrote. "But on this night I get out there, and the refs … they’re not around.

"So I know something’s up." 

As the players headed back to their locker rooms, Gallinari said the coronavirus was the first thing that popped in his mind. 

Gallinari's native Italy, especially where he's from in northern Italy, has been ravaged by the coronavirus. More than 16,500 Italians have died from COVID-19. 

"Back in the locker room, it seemed like we were waiting forever to find out what was going on," Gallinari wrote. "We were all just sitting around trying to predict what was up." 

Gallinari said he spoke after a minute or so and told his teammates that the postponement was likely related to the coronavirus. 

"As soon as I finished that sentence, a bunch of players started asking me questions," Gallinari wrote. "I was in the middle of the locker room just fielding questions from everybody. Guys just wanted to get information. For the most part, I wouldn’t say that anyone was scared. Me, though? I actually … was scared." 

Gallinari wrote about how his loved ones have been affected, how he's trying to help Oklahomans through the pandemic and how his relationship with Chris Paul has grown through the stoppage in play. 

Read the full story here

Related Photos
Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari (8) gestures after making basket during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. Oklahoma City won 126-122. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari (8) gestures after making basket during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. Oklahoma City won 126-122. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-a566ae465173bd31bc662eb864f549e0.jpg" alt="Photo - Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari (8) gestures after making basket during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. Oklahoma City won 126-122. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]" title="Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari (8) gestures after making basket during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. Oklahoma City won 126-122. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]"><figcaption>Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari (8) gestures after making basket during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. Oklahoma City won 126-122. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]</figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›

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