Zaza Pachulia has come under intense fire from San Antonio Spurs fans after causing Kawhi Leonard to sprain his ankle in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
Leonard rose up for a jump shot and landed on Pachulia’s foot when he came down, aggravating an ankle injury that was already giving the San Antonio star trouble.
Although Pachulia didn’t appear to intentionally harm Leonard, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich compared the play to “manslaughter” and their fans have now threatened Pachulia and his family so much so that his children needed extra security guards stationed at their school.
“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 told USA Today Sports. “(Fans) just hear the message, and it’s, ‘OK, Pop said so and now let’s do this.’ It’s just wrong.”
The Golden State Warriors big man has been adamant that he did not intend to injure Leonard and doesn’t mind fans coming after him for it. But when it comes to threatening his family, he won’t stand for it.
“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,” the married father of two said in defense of his family.
“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,” Pachulia said. “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.”
“Even though sometimes my wife doesn’t want to show it, it’s obvious. We’ve been together for 10 years now, so 10 years is a long time to know somebody. Every move. Every breath,” Pachulia said. “It’s very emotional for her, especially the traveling (for Games 3 and 4). She’s by herself. And even though I’m pretty sure nothing is going to happen, still when you get this kind of threatening messages, you don’t know.”
Pachulia also addressed the concerns he has about his seven-year-old son and his four-year-old daughter.
“Look at what happened at the school. It was unfortunate. They had to get extra security because we are living in a world today where social media is so active, you can find any news you want to, hear any news you want to, and obviously it’s a hot topic lately. They just had hired extra security for the entrance and make sure nobody goes in the school,” he revealed. “It’s just not fair. It does upset me.”
The Warriors will face the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 of the series tonight with a 3-0 lead and a possibility to send San Antonio home for good. Leonard is questionable for the game Monday night.