Bargnani becomes instant media magnet

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There is one aspect of the NBA that is not sitting well with Raptors rookie Andrea Bargnani.

The low-key forward, who was drafted first overall by the Raptors this year, held two media conferences yesterday prior to the Raptors' season-opening 102-92 loss to the New Jersey Nets at the Continental Airlines Arena. One for a large contingent from Italy and the other for the North America media.

Bargnani said he is enjoying his time thus far in the NBA, but he is not digging the intense media attention that comes from being the first overall draft, and the first European to be drafted No. 1 in the NBA.

Italian media in attendance last night included representatives from Vogue Italia, La Stampa, La Republica, La Gazette dello Sport, Corriere della Sera, as well as various television crews.

There were also some crews from Spain, here to report on Toronto's Spanish duo, Jose Calderon and Jorge Garbajosa.

Last night's game was broadcast on Sky TV Italy with Raptors assistant general manager Maurizio Gherardini doing colour commentary.

The game was also broadcast in Spain.

Bargnani did not seem particularly relaxed with either contingent, but he did open up some, admitting that he was a little nervous playing in his first regular season game.

"This is a new experience for everybody, because this is the first time in the NBA (that a team) has had so many European players," said the seven-foot Bargnani.

"So nobody knows how we can do. But for me, we are a good team."

Bargnani played just under nine minutes in his NBA debut last night and contributing two blocks, two rebounds and two points.

For the first few regular-season games at least, his minutes will be limited, as he learns the NBA game.

In the pre-season, he averaged 9.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in the pre-season, missing one game with a sore left ankle.

"I have to improve a lot," he said, when asked to grade his performance in the pre-season. "I did some stuff very good, some stuff very bad."

Bargnani demonstrated patience answering questions in both Italian and English, even the unusual ones, such as what his pre-game meal was.

"Some fruit, some marmalade, some bread," he said.

"Orange marmalade?" the reporter pressed.

"I don't remember," Bargnani replied.

Yes, it's going to be a long year for the young forward.


Videos

Photos