BOSTON — Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari both grew up surrounded by Boston Celtics fandom.
As a kid in Italy, Gallinari was an admirer of Larry Bird. And when he was drafted by the New York Knicks in 2008, he remembers watching the Hall of Famer’s highlights daily on a disc given to him by then-general manager Donnie Walsh.
“Larry Bird is a legend, so it’s not easy to do the stuff that he was doing,” Gallinari said Tuesday. “But I would look at those tapes every day.”
Brogdon, too, remembers being inundated with tales of the green and white by his grandfather, a die-hard devotee of Bill Russell and Red Auerbach.
Now years later, and after multiple stops around the league, Gallinari and Brogdon — Boston’s top two offseason additions — are being called upon to help this latest incarnation of the Celtics return to the championship status that eluded them this past season with their loss in the Finals to Golden State.
“When the Celtics came on the table, it was almost like a no-brainer,” Gallinari said. “You look around and see what’s going on — the banners, the history and everything that the Celtics are about. It was an easy choice.”
The veterans also know what it’s like to be close to reaching the NBA’s championship summit.
Brogdon was drafted by Milwaukee and spent his first three years there before being traded two years ahead of the Bucks ultimately winning the title in 2021.
Gallinari bounced around on five teams before helping Atlanta make a surprise Eastern Conference finals run in 2021 before it fell to Milwaukee.
“For me, I’m in my prime. I’m 29 years old,” said Brogdon, who was traded from Indiana just hours after the start of free agency. “I experienced winning at a high level in Milwaukee my first three years. I went to Indiana, had a solid season and then sort of two rough seasons. So this is everything I’ve wanted, to be able to get back to this level. To be able to compete with guys that want to win a championship and guys that want to sacrifice to win.”
That includes Brogdon, who averaged a team-high 19.1 points last season to go along with 5.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists. He said he is more than willing to accept an understudy role to Celtics starting point guard Marcus Smart, the reigning Defensive Player of Year
it was clear at times during Boston’s postseason run that it was missing a traditional playmaking point guard, and Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens made it a priority during free agency — as well as finding help for a bench that was missing consistent scoring without disrupting its core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Smart.
“I want to come in here and I want to add — my skill set, my playmaking, my ability to play off the ball when guys like Brown and Tatum have the ball,” Brogdon said. “And my ability to be able to read the game, to be able to close games, make good decisions and defend, really, 1 through 4 can be an asset to this team.”
Gallinari, who turns 34 this coming season, said taking a reserve role the past two seasons in Atlanta has helped him dive headfirst into a phase in his career in which he isn’t the centerpiece.
“At that point in my career, it was a move I decided to accept,” Gallinari said. “It’s something that you’ve got to adjust and you’ve got to be a pro. And whatever’s got to be done, you’ve got to do it.”