Full disclosure - I was becoming increasing fond of The Large Italian around the time of the posting of this piece. But days after its posting, "Gigi" began following me on Twitter.
Shortly thereafter, he sent me a message referencing a line from the article. Shortly thereafter, my 15 year old daughter, who is an artist, drew a picture of him which he received graciously and posted on his Instagram and Facebook pages. The illustration received thousands of likes and many comments - no shortage of which were not in English.
That is because Luigi Datome is loved in Italy.
In a piece by Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, Gigi "holds a place of greater prominence in the hearts of fans back in Italy."
According to Riccardo Pratesi, writer for Gazzetta dello Sport, Datome is a special player back home.
“He’s important because when the other NBA guys didn’t play with the national team, he was always there,” Pratesi said. “So he became a captain, and he became much more of a symbol.
“He was also the MVP of our league a couple of seasons ago. He is an accomplished player and a player who has been with our national team forever, so people really like him. He’s also not the kind of guy who just always says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when you ask him a question. He’s a very articulate guy and a guy who is free-thinking. So he’s a guy who’s interesting.”
Stuck on the Detroit Pistons for a year and a half, a team in transition, Datome had not been reported as complaining. Seemingly pleased to simply have the ability to prove his worth in the League, Gigi has patiently awaited his opportunity to show his quality.
And make no mistake. It is a bit special to his fan base that it is with the Celtics.
...the people back home who stayed up late to watch the Celtics began seeing their man playing serious minutes and playing well. And make no mistake; there are people in Italy who do stay up late to watch the Celts.
“The Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls are the three most popular NBA teams in Italy, because of Jordan, Bird and Magic Johnson,” Pratesi said. “People are just happy that Gigi is finally getting a chance, and they are happy that it’s in Boston. They are just hoping that in this brief period of time he can show all he has got.
“But they love him (being) in Boston, because the Celtics have this kind of mystical image for Italians and Boston is a very European city. Maybe it’s the most European city you can find in the U.S.
In very little playing time, Datome has shown a good basketball IQ, unselfish play and the ability to almost effortlessly guide shots through the hoop.
With Datome's impressive resume, obvious skills and likeable personality, there's little doubt that he will find success in life, whether it be with the Celtics, another NBA team, or in any number of other endeavors.
And even if he doesn't, odds are he'll still have a swarm of supporters around the globe.
@Chris Quimby Chris Quimby 3/31/2015 04:59:00 PM Tweet Edit