by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

The myth — constantly pushed by fans and media in and outside of Gotham — is that playing in New York can bring great athletes untold riches, fame and happiness. These are things that most players want, naturally, but it’s not often that you hear an athlete publicly shy away from them.

For the KnicksDanilo Gallinari, despite his burgeoning play of late, the burden of stardom is something he’s not quite ready to face yet, if ever.

Gallo tells the NY Times that despite growing expectations, he’s by no means a star:

On Tuesday night, Gallinari helped spearhead a furious second-half rally in a loss in Denver. On Wednesday, he propelled the Knicks to a victory in Sacramento. He was dynamic, confident, crafty — everything the Knicks hoped he could be when they made him the sixth pick in the 2008 draft.

The expectations have at times been too much to handle. Gallinari has embraced the spotlight, but he is weary of the scrutiny and the questions that accompany every subpar game. This season has had more than its share. So after six breakthrough quarters, in which he looked very much like a potential star, the 22-year-old Gallinari swiftly punctured the notion of his stardom.

“I know you expect a lot from me, and people expect a lot from me,” Gallinari said late Wednesday night, “but I’m not a superstar, I’m not an All-Star, I’m not LeBron, I’m not those great players. I’m an important player of the Knicks. And that’s what I’m trying to do, to help the team every time. Sometimes, can be these type of games, sometimes not. But as long as we win, it’s all good.”

It’s a smart move on his part, a coy attempt to deflate the pressure and keep expectations at a reasonable level.

The reality, however, is that should Gallinari’s strong play continue (coupled with more Knicks victories), he’ll be branded a star whether he likes it or not.