Danilo Gallinari’s summer with the Italian national basketball team came to a premature end after he punched an opponent in a recent friendly matchup with the Netherlands and injured himself. Gallinari was frustrated after taking an elbow up high as he and Jito Kok battled for position on a free throw and went after Kok with a shove.
The incident escalated into Gallinari throwing and connecting with a right hook that led to his ejection and also a right thumb injury. Gallinari is reportedly fine to return in time for training camp with the Clippers later this fall, but his status with the Italian team isn’t great right now as his coach Ettore Messina — an assistant for the Spurs — ripped him when asked about the incident.
Messina told Italian media outlet Repubblica (as translated by Sportando) that, while Gallinari was apologetic and remorseful, Messina didn’t want to talk to him and expressed his frustration with the entire situation.
“He did something I can’t explain, unacceptable. An example of do-it yourself justice that disgusts me in society, imagine in sports” Messina said. “He apologized, he was mortified. But I did not want to talk to him. It is difficult to explain to a 30-year old man concepts as loyalty and responsibility. His absence it will influence the team because we’ll be missing his talent. But sports is full of situations that are overturned thank to old concepts as humility, cohesion and wish to overcome their limits.”
The part about explaining concepts like “loyalty and responsibility” to a 30-year-old man cut especially deep. Punching an opponent in an NBA game or club team game is already bad enough, but doing so in an international friendly is especially bad as you’re representing your country.
Whether Gallinari is welcomed back to the Italian team will be determined in the future, but for right now, it’s probably smart for him to steer clear of Messina for a little bit.