The Western Conference Finals instantly became a drastic mismatch after Spurs All-Star Kawhi Leonard got injured in the Game 1. Le0nard hasn’t played since injuring his ankle after landing on Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia’s feet in the third quarter and, directly related, the Spurs haven’t won a game in the series (or been particularly competitive) and are currently down 3-0.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was especially incensed by Leonard’s injury and essentially blamed Pachulia for it. And while Popovich has a point as Pachulia did have an extra and unnecessary shuffle which caused Leonard to get injured, the Warriors big man is now facing far greater consequences of the Spurs coach’s fiery rant than anyone should as Pachulia’s family is dealing with the aftermath of the incident.
“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, who has an eight-year-old son, a seven-year-old son, and a four-year-old daughter with his wife, told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday. “(Fans) just hear the message, and it’s, ‘Ok, Pop said so and now let’s do this.’ It’s just wrong. 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.
“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. … 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.”
You have to empathize with Pachulia here. While we can debate whether or not he knowingly and purposeful slid under Leonard’s feet, Pachulia’s family should not even part of the conversation. There is no reason for them to be mentioned for that matter as the issue Spurs fans have with Pachulia is solely about him, not his family.
The whole concept that fans are threatening Pachulia’s family is quite disheartening to hear. Yet this is just the age we live in and Pachulia is dealing with the backlash to his actions, which unfortunately has reached another level due to Popovich’s emotional rant. For Pachulia and his family’s sake, let’s hope this whole thing blows over once the series ends, which could very well be Monday night.