San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich obviously didn’t like how their star player Kawhi Leonard got injured in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Popovich described Zaza Pachulia’s action as “dangerous” and “unsportsmanlike” and recalled his history of being a “dirty player.”
“A two-step, lead-with-your-foot closeout is not appropriate,” Popovich said. “It’s dangerous. It’s unsportsmanlike. It’s just not what anybody does to anybody else. And this particular individual has a history with that kind of action. You can go back and look in Dallas [Mavericks] games, where [Pachulia, who played for the Mavs during the 2015-16 season] got a flagrant- for elbowing Patty Mills. The play where he took Kawhi down and locked his arm, in Dallas. 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 then think about the history he’s had, and what that means to a team, what happened last night.”
Gregg Popovich “very angry” on Zaza Pachulia’s closeout
Kawhi Leonard’s absence will undeniably decrease the Spurs’ chance of beating the Warriors and advance to the NBA Finals. Before the incident, the Spurs led by 23 points. However, the Warriors took advantage of the situation when Leonard left and never returned.
Warriors center Zaza Pachulia defended himself from critics who called the foul against Leonard “intentional.” Leonard also said in a post-game interview that he doesn’t think that Pachulia did it on purpose. Coach Gregg Popovich openly stated that he’s “very angry” with the whole situation but doesn’t care if the league takes action or not.
“I don’t care what the league does,” Popovich said. “I’m just telling you how I feel. The league is the league. They do what they do. I could care less. I didn’t call the league. Why would I do that? They looked at the play. If they do something, they do something. If they don’t, they don’t. All I care about is, Kawhi’s not there.”
Updates on Kawhi Leonard’s ankle injury
On Monday, Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard had an MRI on his injured ankle. The result revealed that there’s no structural damage in his ankle. This leaves the possibility that he will return in the series against the Warriors. However, the Spurs listed Leonard as doubtful in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday night.
Photo courtesy: Zereshk/Wikimedia Commons
Video courtesy: Youtube/San Francisco Examiner