Jason Quick of The Oregonian checks in with Blazers forward Nicolas Batum and Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari on their lengthy rivalry that dates back to their teenage years in advance of Thursday's Portland/Denver game at the Rose Garden.
For Gallinari, it was 2004, at the U-16 European Championships held in Amaliada, Greece.
"The thing that I'm sure of is that he wasn't as good when he was younger. He has improved a lot. But I remember one the first tournaments we played against each other. We were in the middle of nowhere in Greece, and there was nothing to do at all. But our teams were staying at the same hotel. After the tournament, I remember meeting him and exchanging our jerseys. His was No. 5. I wonder if he remembers that."
For Batum, he remembers a December 2007 game when both were stars in the Euroleague and had stated their intentions to enter the NBA draft. The game was in LeMans, France, the homecourt of Batum's team. But there was more than just Gallinari and his Milano team in town.
"I've never see that many NBA scouts at one game," Batum said. "Isiah Thomas. Chris Mullin. Kevin Pritchard ... there must have been 20 NBA teams there."
I wrote about Batum and his unique relationship with Gallinari when the Blazers defeated the Nuggets back in February. At the time, Gallinari had received a contract extension while Batum hadn't. Batum hit a franchise-record nine three-pointers in that game.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter