Danilo Gallinari says Italy has a Great Friend in Chris Paul

Erik Gee

As COVID-19 was spreading across Danilo Gallinari's home country of Italy, Chris Paul wanted to how he could help those in need. Gallinari says, "Way back when things started getting bad over in Italy, he told me that he wanted to help my region and the local hospital, and so he's done a number of things to pitch in and lend a hand."

"I cannot thank him enough. The nation of Italy has a great, great friend in Chris Paul. I can tell you that much. It's truly special." 

Gallinari and Paul talk "almost every day"; there are also regular video chats with the rest of the Thunder. "Just being able to see my teammates' faces, and ask how their families are doing, and for us to be able to support one another … that's been really wonderful, really needed."

"On those video calls, it's basically the same as when we play our games."... "Because of CP, that guy … he's not just our leader on the court. He takes the lead in those FaceTime conversations, too."... "He kind of sets the agenda and keeps everything flowing."

These revelations come from Gallinari's article in The Players Tribune, where he recounts what happened the night we learned Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus. Gallinari was the first one to mention COVID-19 while the Thunder were back in their locker room waiting on word from the NBA. 

"Guys, I said, "my guess is that this is something related to that virus. The coronavirus..." As soon as I finished that sentence, a bunch of players started asking me questions. 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 had reason to be scared as he was getting daily updates on the effects of the virus from his friends back home. While his dad and brother are in Denver running the restaurant he owns, his mother is in quartine in Italy.

  "That has me worried about her. I keep telling myself that she will be O.K. — she's lucky, she lives in a big apartment with a terrace that allows her to get some air. It definitely could be worse."

The most chilling thing Gallinari shed light on was the overcrowding in hospitals. "One of my best friends, he's a hand surgeon, and he's helping out at one of the hospitals that are struggling with a lack of supplies and beds for sick people."

"He tells me that the situation is far worse than what you see on TV."... "Overcrowding is a huge problem, so people are dying from the virus while others at the same hospital are dying from other medical conditions because there are not enough doctors and beds to go around."

" If you break your hip or have appendicitis, they have no space for you. You can't get assistance."Gallinari is helping locally by supplying test kits, masks, and face guard for Oklahoma City-County medical workers.