OAKLAND, Calif.–San Antonio Spurs player, Kahwi Leonard, was re-injured by Zaza Pachulia of Golden States Warriors last Sunday, May 14, 2017, during the Spurs versus Warriors Game 1.
Pachulia, to his dismay, said that the speculations of intending to hurt Leonard through “slide under” defense were stupid and had no basis at all. He added that he hates to see his fellow players have an injury like that because he is an athlete, too.
The post-game discussion led to an investigation of Pachulia’s intention. This tattered and ruined his reputation, in addition to the high number of complaints on Twitter asking for an explanation behind the epidemic foul in the NBA playoffs.
On the other hand, Leonard said in an interview that he did not see it as an intentional foul and he added that he sees Pachulia as a player who will not play dirty tactics to win the game. Meanwhile, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich chose not to comment on this issue and did not give his take with the closeout.
Pachulia was defended by his fellow Warriors player Kevin Durant. Durant clearly pointed out that Pachulia’s critics on Twitter are all irrational and do not have any basis. He added that Pachulia is not a dirty player and he would have had to time it perfectly if he wanted to injure Leonard on purpose.
Durant also reiterated that it was a real-time action of a defender and Pachulia accidentally moved himself to the shooter’s landing area while running and losing balance at the same time.
The Senior VP of NBA, Joe Borgia, reminded that the “slide under” incident, whether it is on purpose or not, should still be called as a foul. The defender should not go further on the landing area of the shooter. He mentioned that this type of incident had been seen in the NBA quite often over the years. He commended Referee Marc Davis for correctly whistling to Pachulia.
The NBA understands that the epidemic “slide under” incident of the defender is quite dangerous, that is why they assessed Pachulia as foul. Game 1 ended with Warriors getting 113 score and Spurs getting a 111 score. The next game will happen at 9:00 am on Wednesday, May 17, 2017, at the Oracle Arena, Oakland.