Road To Recovery: Nuggets Forward Danilo Gallinari

06.12.14 5 years ago
Maybe you forgot about them, or simply blocked their injury from your mind — convinced they were never on your team anyway. Perhaps you’ve eagerly awaited updates about their return to the hardwood, but we doubt it. When an NBA player goes down with a serious injury most fans figure he’ll never return to form, or he’ll be out of the league soon. We’re not most fans. Welcome to the first edition of the “Road to Recovery,” where we spotlight those players working their butts off to return to the court.

This past season the Denver Nuggets were a shell of the team they were in 2012-13. Despite changes in the front office and on the sidelines, the Nuggets were still expected to be a playoff-worthy challenger in the Western Conference. Even though they retooled with the highly coveted Brian Shaw as their head coach, the team could not overcome the myriad of injuries that plagued them throughout the year.

Chief amongst those injuries was the setback Danilo Gallinari suffered in January that required a second surgery on his torn ACL originally suffered on April 4, 2013. The January surgery sidelined Gallo for the entire season and effectively crushed any hopes the Nuggets had of legitimate contention in the loaded west.

Gallinari averaged a career-best 16.2 points per game in 2012-13 and seemed to be coming into his own as a go-to scorer for the Nuggets. Now injuries have robbed him of a playoff appearance last spring as well as a full 82-game set this past season. He is rehabbing hard but is unsure of his status for next season and it would be a shame to see him in a suit to start the 2014-15 campaign.

Gallo took some time to talk to us about his rehab, the Nuggets and even about the World Cup in an interview from Italy as he finished his appearance at the adidas Eurocamp.

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Dime: How is the rehab going for you right now?
Danilo Gallinari: Rehab is going very well. We are a little past four months since the last surgery. It’s going to be a summer of rehabbing and working to try to be ready for training camp.

Dime: What have you learned through this process over the last year and a half two…what’s been your biggest take away from all of this?
DG: Well I know a lot about knees right now. I know a lot about knees and the body that I didn’t know before. An experience like this — when you go through injuries, it makes you stronger mentally. So that’s definitely one thing that I have gotten out of this injury and rehab. I have also learned a few things about my focus on the court and off the court.

Dime: Have you learned any preventive measures to take to hopefully avoid further injury?
DG: Oh, definitely. I think especially for NBA players prevention is key. It makes you stronger, it makes you better and makes your body ready to handle extreme situations in a basketball game.

Dime: What has been the hardest part of all this?
DG: The first part of the rehab is the toughest part because you can’t do much. Not even in the weight room or in the training room. You can’t move a lot of stuff. But the more the rehab goes on you can move more and spend more time in the weight room and the basketball court. But for sure the first few months of the rehab is the toughest part.

Dime: How have you been keeping motivated, especially after the setback in January?
DG: I think I’m pretty good by nature in doing that myself and I like to find different motivation each day. I want to do the best that I can each given day. Then I was lucky enough to have Steve Hess and trainers from the Denver Nuggets behind me. And my family behind me. I think those two or three things have made the rehab much easier

Dime: That leads into my next question of who or what group of people have been able to keep your emotional spirits high through your injuries?
DG: I think my family first in general has helped the most. My dad and my mom– both in the same way. Also Steve Hess our team trainer. I don’t think there is anybody like him. He’s 24/7 energy, always positive and I was very lucky to go through the process with him. He gives me the motivation every day. It’s not easy to convince a player to stay in the weight room instead of staying on the basketball court, but he’s been very good in doing that.

Click to hear how Danilo is working with JaVale McGee and what parts of his game he’s improved…

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