OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Injured Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia disclosed Sunday that he was compelled to post a security guard at his son’s school after receiving social media threats following a tirade by San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich over a foul that injured Spurs star Kawhi Leonard.
The social media rage began after Game One of the Western Conference Finals when Pachulia closed out on Leonard as he shot a 3-pointer. Leonard landed on Pachulia’s foot and the Spurs star re-injured his ankle and has not returned to play in the playoffs.
“The two step, lead with your foot closeout is not appropriate. It’s dangerous, it’s unsportsmanlike, it’s just not what anybody does to anybody else,” the Spurs coach ranted.
“This particular individual has a history with that kind of action. You can look back at Dallas games where he got a flagrant 2 for elbowing Patty Mills. The play where he took Kawhi down and locked his arm in Dallas and could have 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.”
“Think about the history he’s had and what that means to a team, what happened last night. Totally unnatural closeout that the league has outlawed years ago and pays great attention to. And Kawhi’s not there. You want to know how we feel about it. You want to know if that lessons our chances or not.”
Popovich’s rant unleashed a tsunami of hate speak on Pachulia’s social media accounts. The Warriors center told USA Today that he closed down his Instagram account and felt completed to have security guards deployed at his son’s school.
“(Fans) just hear the message, and it’s, ‘Ok, Pop said so and now let’s do this,'” Pachulia told the paper. “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.”
Pachulia told the paper the San Antonio coach should have known the kind of fan reaction his words would cause.
I’m not blaming everything on (Popovich), but he was a very big part of it,” he said.
Ironically, Pachulia also suffered an injury and has been sidelined himself.