Gregg Popovich announced that Kawhi Leonard will be out for Game 2 with his ankle injury against the Golden State Warriors during his media availability on Monday morning in Oakland.
“Obviously, he won’t play tomorrow,” was the official quote from Pop on the Kawhi matter, via the Associated Press.
Not only did he announce Leonard will miss Game 2, but he also went on a legendary rant about Zaza Pachulia and the play that caused Leonard to leave the game for good. Pop did not mince words when recounting Pachulia’s history with dirty play, and said that intent doesn’t matter, especially considering his history.
The full quote is as follows:
For elbowing Patty Mills. The play where he took Kawhi down and locked his arm in Dallas, and could’ve broken his arm. Ask David West, his current teammate, how things went when Zaza was playing for Dallas and he and David got into it. And think about the history he’s had and what that means to a team with what happened last night. A totally unnatural closeout that the league has outlawed years ago and pays great attention to it. And Kawhi’s not there. And you want to know how we feel about it. You want to know if that lessens our chances or not. We’re playing very possibly the best team in the league — we don’t know what’s going to happen in the East. And 9.75 people out of 10 would figure the Warriors beat the Spurs. Well, we’ve had a pretty damn good season. We’ve played fairly well in the playoffs, I think we’re getting better, and we’re up 23 points in the third quarter against Golden State and Kawhi goes down like that. And you want to know if our chances are less and you want to know how we feel? That’s how we feel. Follow up?
Popovich, when asked about whether intent matters, brought up manslaughter and called into question Pachulia’s history again.
‘He didn’t have intent.’ Who gives a damn about what his intent was? You ever heard of manslaughter? You still go to jail I think if you’re Texan and you kill somebody. And you might not have intended to do that. All I care is what I saw. All I care about is what happened. And the history there exacerbates the whole situation and makes me very, very angry.
The history Pop mentions, at least with regards to the Leonard and West incidents, can be seen in the video below from the Spurs series with the Mavs last year.
All of this comes after Pachulia, Leonard, and Kevin Durant all said after Game 1 that they felt it wasn’t dirty. It’s clear that Popovich, having watched the play again, feels like what Pachulia did shuffling under Leonard’s feet was well outside the boundaries of clean play.