Zaza Pachulia’s awkwardly straddling the line between “dirty player” and “helplessly clumsy” deprived NBA fans of what would have likely been 2017’s most exciting playoff series. It also deprived Kawhi Leonard of the rest of the San Antonio Spurs’ playoff run, and almost a year later, the Spurs wing is still not feeling right.
Which might be why NBA players were so quick to pile on the Golden State Warriors big man after he awkwardly fell onto the legs of Russell Westbrook during Saturday night’s tilt with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This could’ve ended badly… pic.twitter.com/PFl7P0250A
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 25, 2018
After his team’s 112-80 defeat at the hands of the Warriors, Westbrook was asked if he thinks Pachulia is a dirty player.
“Yeah,” he responded. “For sure.”
He added: “What did it look like? Did anybody touch him? … Obviously it was intentional. Nobody touched him. He fell on my leg. He tried to hurt me. But hey. That’s how that goes.”
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) February 25, 2018
Two weeks ago, Westbrook’s teammate Paul George was nearly maimed by Pachulia.
Zaza is frustratingly clumsy pic.twitter.com/mUrKGxuc64
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) February 7, 2018
“I’m gonna take the Russ approach to this. Did you see it?” George said on Saturday. “You know Zaza, you know his history, and you know nobody pushed him. He aimed where he was going to fall.
“That’s Zaza making a Zaza play. He’s on the end of hurting a lot of guys.”
Russell Westbrook was heated about the Zaza Pachulia play. Will post that, but here’s Paul George on it. pic.twitter.com/U0wBFVnZP2
— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) February 25, 2018
Fellow NBA players Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard chimed in disapprovingly.
BS play smh https://t.co/AqmCjfemWQ
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) February 25, 2018
Kyrie Irving has thoughts on Pachulia falling on Westbrook’s leg: “that s*** is ridiculous” pic.twitter.com/fPJayhbzT4
— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) February 25, 2018
While this angle at least lends credence to the idea that Pachulia hit the deck because the foot of teammate Nick Young buckled that back of his knee …
… a guy with this kinda history doesn’t really get the benefit of the doubt.
In a scramble for a jump ball, Zaza tries to punch Iman Shumpert in the groin: pic.twitter.com/N5drT7Ujzm
— mf DOOM in CAPS (@GAMEWINING3) February 25, 2018
Is Zaza a dirty player? Let’s check the tape! pic.twitter.com/nuIVP2y3re
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 25, 2018