A couple of the game stories about the Knicks' 97-93 win against Charlotte on Thursday night make reference to a gift that Danilo Gallinari got from G.M. Donnie Walsh this Christmas. Walsh gave his young buck a DVD of highlights from Larry Bird's career, a move that seems to be paying off already.
Not in Gallinari's play, mind you. He's improving with every game, but he's got a way to go before he's Larry Legend. Nor has Gallo gleaned any beauty tips from Larry Legend. Whatever you think of his gelled faux-hawk concoction -- it's certainly an acquired taste -- you have to admit it's better than if Gallo tried to rock the perm/moustache combo that made Bird a fashion victim even in 1984 French Lick.
The DVD is paying off in the swagger department, although that's not the word they used during Bird's career. Cocky sufficed back then and it's a good fit for a player they call the Rooster (Bird, Rooster ... this works out even better than imagined). Gallo nailed two threes in the final two minutes of Thursday's win and after the second one, which he bombed from about 26 feet, he came back down court shaking his head with hands akimbo. It's a familiar pose to basketball watchers, a non-verbal way to send the message that there isn't much point in even bothering to cover me because I'm going to make this shot no matter how many hands are in my face.
Walsh's intention was probably to get Gallo to focus on how Bird, also a great shooter, used his whole game to beat the opposition. We've seen some of that from Gallo and we'll see more, but in the short term it's not such a bad thing for a guy hitting 41 percent of his threes to emulate Bird's belief that he could hit any shot at any time from any corner of the court.
There were other players worth watching on Thursday, not the least of which was Wilson Chandler. Chandler scored a season-high 27 points and any game that features both him and Gallo playing well gives rise to fevered dreams of them running as sidekicks to a superstar. There was also more boom and bust from Nate Robinson (10 points, seven turnovers) and the customary solid David Lee performance.
Thing is, it's hard to take your eyes off Gallo no matter who else is on the court. That's something else he has in common with Bird.