NBA critics, former players praise, slam Popovich for blasting Zaza

Popovich says Pachulia has a history of controversial plays

Courtesy: Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO – Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich stunned the NBA community Monday afternoon when he ripped apart Warriors center Zaza Pachulia for injuring star forward Kawhi Leonard in a controversial play.

TOP STORY ON KSAT.COM: Popovich blasts Pachulia for play that injured Kawhi Leonard (w/raw video)

“All I care about is Kawhi (Leonard) is not there (and) when you’re playing Golden State in their place, and you’re playing like that, it’s pretty cool. But this is crap,” Popovich said. “And because he has this history and it can’t just be, ‘Oh, it was inadvertent (and Pachulia) didn’t have intent.' Who gives a damn about his intent.”

Popovich’s rant continued:

“Have you ever heard of manslaughter? You still go to jail, I think, when you’re texting and you end up killing somebody, but you might not have intended to do that. All I care is what I saw.”

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Hours later after Popovich’s press conference, NBA analysts and former players gathered around the roundtable on various networks to discuss whether the presumed Hall-of-Fame coach was right for lashing out on Pachulia.

Hall-of-Famer and four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal engaged in a debate with fellow "Inside the NBA" analyst Kenny Smith, saying Pachulia knew exactly what he was doing when he slide his foot underneath Leonard’s landing area.

TRENDING ON KSAT.COM: Warriors' Zaza Pachulia responds to Popovich's comments on him being a 'dirty player' (w/ raw video)

“Shoot a jumper right now and I’m going to put my foot there and it’s going to be a 50/50 chance you land on my foot,” O’Neal said. “(Pachulia) knew what the hell he was doing, don’t even try it.”

Former Spur and NBA champion Stephen Jackson said on ESPN’s "The Jump" he’s pulling for the Golden State Warriors to win the series but Pachulia’s common foul on Leonard in Game 1 was dirty.

“The (Warriors) were down 20 (and) Zaza did that out of frustration. That’s not a normal play he’ll make, but he’s been dirty in the past as Popovich said,” Jackson said to former-NBA player Kenyon Martin and analyst Amin Elhassan at the roundtable.

Jackson went on the say he played with Spurs legend and three-time champion Bruce Bowen, who was the best at making those type of plays.


“Pop’s angry? He’s got a jersey retired of a dude who made a career of this. Fans of 29 other teams could be upset about this play, San Antonio. Sorry,” Elhassan said. “Y’all did enough of that back between 2000 and 2009 to ever be angry about this type of play and a whole lot worse.”

To watch what other NBA star players and analysts had to say about Popovich blasting Pachulia for Kawhi’s injury, scroll below:


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