Playoffs 2017: West Finals -- Warriors (1) vs. Spurs (2)
Report: Pachulia says family threatened, partially blames Popovich
Warriors center Zaza Pachulia says his family was threatened via social media after his injury-inducing incident with Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, and he partially blames Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
USA Today reported Sunday that extra security was deployed at the Bay Area elementary school of Pachulia’s three young children in the days after Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.
Pachulia was accused by some observers of a dirty play in that contest after he slid under Leonard’s feet while closing out on the Spurs star. Leonard, the Spurs’ leading scorer and the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year, sprained his ankle and has yet to return to the series, in which the Warriors lead 3-0.
Popovich was irate after the injury, comparing Pachulia’s play to manslaughter.
“Who gives a damn what his intent was?” Popovich said. “A totally unnatural closeout that the league has outlawed, years ago, and pays great attention to. We were up 23 points in the third quarter (of Game 1), and Kawhi goes down. And you want to know if our chances are less, and you want to know how we feel? That’s how we feel.”
Pachulia, who is being sued by a Spurs fan over the incident, has been reluctant to address the incident in detail before opening up to USA Today’s Sam Amick.
“I don’t blame everything on Pop, but what he said had a lot of influence (and) you had a lot of people where, unfortunately, you can’t control what everybody’s intelligence is,” Pachulia, who has an eight-year-old son, a seven-year-old son and a four-year-old daughter with his wife of 10 years. “(Fans) just hear the message, and it’s, ‘Ok, Pop said so and now let’s do this.’ It’s just wrong. You’ve got to think, and realize. Threaten me, but don’t threaten my wife or say something about my kids. It’s just wrong.
“Me as a person, as a man, I don’t mind dealing with it. But I hate to see my family deal with it. My wife and my kids who have nothing to do with it, who are very innocent. I just hate my family going through that. They don’t deserve that. I’m not blaming everything on (Popovich), but he was a very big part of it.”