An eventful NBA Playoffs for Zaza Pachulia.
Whether it was intentional or not still fuels debate, but when Zaza Pachulia of the Golden State Warriors aggressively closed out on San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 of their NBA Western Conference Finals series, it changed the matchup’s entire complexion.
Leonard was injured on the play and the Spurs have put up little resistance since — Golden State is now up 3-0 in the series.
But Pachulia paid a price of his own. Social media threats from Spurs fans made the Warriors center fear for his family’s safety. How serious did it get? Security guards were even hired to protect his children’s Bay Area school.
After Leonard was injured by Pachulia, fans and analysts vociferously debated the Warriors role player’s level of guilt. But many of those who thought Pachulia injured Leonard on purpose were really convinced that Pachulia injured Leonard on purpose.
Now USA Today reports that, "while Pachulia was hesitant to share too many details, the situation was serious enough that security guards were deployed to the entrance of his children’s school in the San Francisco Bay Area as a precaution."
Pachulia has a four-year old daughter and two sons who are seven and eight years old.
"Look at what happened at the school. It was unfortunate," Pachulia said. "They had to get extra security because we are living in a world today where social media is so active, you can find any news you want to, hear any news you want to, and obviously it’s a hot topic lately. They just had hired extra security for the entrance and make sure nobody goes in the school … It’s just not fair. It does upset me."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called Pachulia a dirty player after Leonard’s injury. As for whether Pachulia hurt Leonard on purpose, Popovich said that was irrelevant and asked a rhetorical question: "You ever heard of manslaughter?"
Pachulia feels those comments contributed to the online vitriol that led to security guards stationed at his kids’ school.
"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 told USA Today. "(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."
Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals is Monday night in San Antonio.