Zaza Pachulia called it a career this past offseason. After 16 years, the veteran big man and two-time NBA champion hung up his sneakers, put on a suit, and took on his next challenge. For Pachulia, this involved heading back to the Golden State Warriors, the franchise with which he won both of his rings during the 2017 and 2018 NBA Finals. He left the Dubs in the 2018 offseason, but after a year in Detroit, Pachulia came back to the Bay Area to join Golden State as a consultant. It’s still early on in the experience, but Pachulia is getting a sense for a number of things that go into working for a basketball team.
“We were so spoiled as players, because they would provide us something already decided — thought about it, discussed, and decided,” Pachulia told Dime over the phone. “We never knew what was taking place behind the scenes, who were the people making decisions, or coming up with ideas? So sitting in the room with smart people, people who work very hard, it’s pretty cool, it’s pretty interesting.”
Pachulia has also gotten to explore some off-court interests, too. The Georgia native is the first brand ambassador for Crosty, a sneaker company started by a pair of Georgian brothers, George and Shota Mikaia. Pachulia learned about them following the Warriors’ title in 2017, when they sent him a pair of kicks to celebrate the championship, and now, he’s hopped on board as the company works to make its name stateside.
Dime caught up with Pachulia to talk the new chapter in his career, working with Crosty, and how fashion in the NBA evolved over his career.
What all went into your decision to retire this offseason?
This summer it was different than any previous time with so many free agents, with 40 percent of NBA players being free agents this year. There was a lot of movement, lot of players changing teams. Really, it was hard to keep up with what team what player was going to. And now, watching the games, it’s, “Oh, gosh, this guy is on a different team with different uniforms.” So, a lot of players were free agents, and the game changed, it became very young and a lot of teams want young. Obviously with the draft, you have a new 60 players coming in. To maintain a spot is pretty competitive.
Just to give you a little view of the league of this summer. For me, having a family, obviously … it didn’t come up, anything that was good for me and my family and my future, and meanwhile, I had an offer from the Warriors that was very, very interesting. Obviously at some point I was going to face the decision where I had to call it, so being 35 years old, either this year or next year, it was going to come. I knew that, and having the opportunity to join with the Warriors and start my second chapter with this amazing experience with this amazing team and franchise, it definitely motivated me. Nobody showed up where it was going to be interesting for me and my family, so I looked at my future and said, “You know what? It might be the time for me to go on.” So that’s what happened. Kirk Lacob, who has been a friend of mine, offered me the position where I am right now. It was very interesting and very motivating.
You always hear guys say stuff like, “It was my time, I listened to my body and it said this.” It sounds to me like you thought you had another year or so in you, is that a safe assumption?
Honestly, I wanted to, but like I said, with the right opportunity, with the right team.
Well, fortunately you landed in a really good spot. Was it something you had talked about with the Warriors front office, joining them some day? Or did it just present itself this summer and that made your decision to call it a career easier?