OAKLAND, Calif. – After San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich blasted Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia for a “dirty play” that sidelined Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard. Pachulia responded by saying he’s not a dirty player and he did what he had to do in defending Leonard.
During Monday’s Spurs press conference, Popovich said Pachulia’s “two-step lead with (his) foot close out is not appropriate” and “it’s dangerous.”
"This is crap, because he has this history -- oh, it can't just be inadvertent or he didn't have intent,” Popovich said. “Who gives a damn about what his intent was.”
Pachulia said Popovich’s comments about his “unsportsmanlike” play doesn’t bother him and that he has a lot of respect for Pop and the Spurs organization.
“I did whatever I had to do (and) I wish he hadn’t landed on my foot and honestly had no idea that (Leonard) landed on my foot until I turned back and he was already on the ground,” Pachulia said. “I really feel bad for the guy and I wish it didn’t happen.”
Leonard reinjured his left ankle in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals after landing awkwardly on it twice on two separate occasions – first on the foot of teammate David Lee who was sitting on the Spurs bench, and then Pachulia’s foot – early in the third quarter of Game 1.
“I don’t agree with the calls that I’m a dirty player. I’m not a dirty player (and) just love this game and I’m playing hard,” Pachulia said.
Popovich went on to mention Pachulia’s history of dirty plays on Leonard and Spurs point guard Patty Mills, and even included former-Spur and current Warriors power forward David West.
“You can go back in Dallas games where he got a Flagrant 2 (foul) for elbowing Patty Mills (and) the play where he took Kawhi (Leonard) down and locked his arm in Dallas and could’ve broken his arm,” Popovich said. “Ask David West, his current teammate, how things went when Zaza (Pachulia) was playing for Dallas when he and David got into it. And then think about the history he’s had and what that means to a team what happened last night.”
During Warriors practice on Monday, West had little to say about Pachulia’s history of being a dirty player with his own scuffle with Pachulia when he played for the Spurs last season.
“ZaZa’s my teammate, he plays hard and we’re just trying to win,” West said. “(It was) just a tough play man, (a) tough play.”
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