Zaza Pachulia responds to Gregg Popovich calling him out for closeout on Kawhi Leonard
Since the conclusion of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia has become the center of attention for his involvement in the re-injury of Kawhi Leonard‘s left ankle.
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich unleashed an epic rant on Monday about the play. He called out the league while also pointing at Pachulia’s recent questionable history playing against his team that dates back to last year when he was a member of the Dallas Mavericks.
In light of all that, the veteran center issued a response back to Popovich, as recorded by Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) May 15, 2017
“Not really, it doesn’t bother me. I will say it for the last time, that I did whatever I had to do. That was the right defense for my side, to challenge the shot. I wish he hadn’t landed on my foot, and honestly, I had no idea that he landed on it. I turned back and he was on the ground. As soon as he released the ball, I turned around and tried to chase the rebound. Apparently, he landed on my foot when I was already turned. So I heard the whistle so I stopped running and waited, because I knew that I didn’t made contact with him, and kind of surprised by the whistle because it’s why I started running away. When I turned back he was holding his ankle, and I was trying to figure out what happened.
“I really feel bad for the guy. I wish it didn’t happen and had a different result, basically.”
Pachulia clearly has no intention of going down the path of jabbering back and forth through the media about the situation. He appears to be set in the belief that he didn’t purposely cause the injury to Leonard, stating he was unaware that the Spurs’ star had even landed on his outstretched foot in the moment.
That said, there will certainly be more to come concerning the situation, both on and off the court with Leonard now set to miss Game 2 on Tuesday night. The injury occurred with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter of Game 1, forcing Leonard off the floor for the rest of the afternoon.
Immediately following his departure, the Warriors went on an 18-0 run that helped fuel their comeback to grab a critical win in the opening game of the series.
Beyond the result of the contest, all of this has more importantly placed a big question mark on Leonard’s status for the series moving forward.