Zaza Pachulia of the Golden State Warriors hears the criticism of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Pachulia clearly doesn’t plan on backing down.
As we noted, Pachulia came under fire after he injured Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, prompting serious shots fired from Popovich via the media.
Pachulia, though, wants to stress he doesn’t see the situation in the same light, as captured by the Mercury News‘ Tim Kawakami:
No. No response. I have a lot of respect for Coach Pop and the organization, whatever they’re going through. A lot of respect. And no comments, no response, and focus on Game 2 is all that’s on my mind.
He also noted he doesn’t mind that Popovich called the play, in essence, dirty:
Not really, it doesn’t bother me because I want to say it for the last time, and that’s it, I did whatever I had to do. That was the right defense for my side, to challenge the shot.
Finally, he expressed regret the play unfolded the way it did:
I really feel bad foor the guy. I wish it didn’t happen. Had a different result, basically. But again, this is a game, there are things nobody can control.
For context, here’s Popovich’s reaction to the play:
There’s no easy way to settle the debate here. Some will point out Pachulia has a history of rough play like this, which he does. Others will say this happens in basketball, which it does. Another segment will point out Popovich didn’t mind play like this back in the day when Bruce Bowen was running wild for his team, which is also true.
It stinks the Spurs were up by more than 20 points when this happened and the Warriors went on to win. It stinks Leonard probably won’t suit up for Game 2. The best fans can do, regardless of where they sit on the matter, is hope he makes a speedy recovery and this is a competitive series.