I was drafted by the Knicks in June. My agent warned me that the fans might boo, since I was coming from Italy and nobody knew me. And yeah, that happened. But anyway it was a good feeling—I mean, it’s motivation to prove to everybody what type of player I am. The Milan fans are difficult, too. I’m used to being in a place where the fans understand basketball. I like the pressure.
Then I come for summer league and start to feel a pain in my back. By November it hurts too much, and the doctor says I may need surgery. But I worked with the physical trainer, and now I’ve been playing hard for two weeks. My first shot at the Garden was a nice feeling. The crowd went crazy a little bit! People come up to me on the street now and say, “Good game.” I asked the announcer to play Alice in Chains’s “Here Comes the Rooster” when I score. That was my father’s nickname when he was playing, too.
Being single in New York is fun. My friends and I play card games like Texas hold ’em and explore the city. Armani Jeans is one of my sponsors—this tattoo is the Armani Jeans Milano team’s logo. When I go in a store, I take all the clothes I want. Mr. Armani and I are close. He came to town for Christmas, and we went to dinner with my parents.
I live by myself in an apartment in White Plains, near where we practice. My parents helped me buy my furniture. My dad’s six-eight and my mom’s five-eleven. I’m six-nine, but I’m 20 and my doctor says I’m still growing. Everybody says they can tell, but I can’t see it. I’ll probably end up six-eleven—which is still way shorter than Yao.