Warriors

Zaza takes high road after Popovich pops off on 'unsportsmanlike' play

Zaza takes high road after Popovich pops off on 'unsportsmanlike' play

OAKLAND -- The fallout from Warriors center Zaza Pachulia’s aggressive closeout on Spurs star Kawhi Leonard, resulting in Leonard landing on Pachulia’s foot and aggravating a sprained ankle, continued Monday, with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich going on the offensive and the Warriors barely bothering to respond.

Popovich lit into Pachulia’s character Monday morning, accusing the Warriors center of “dangerous” behavior Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals and having a history of unsportsmanlike conduct.

Given an opportunity to respond Monday afternoon, Pachulia took the high road. Moreover, he insisted he’s unaffected by comments made by the highly respected San Antonio coach.

“No, not really, it doesn't bother me,” Pachulia said after Warriors practice. “Because I want to say the last time and that's it: I did whatever I had to do.”

Switched out when Kevin Durant was screened off Leonard, Pachulia pushed up on Leonard as he rose to shoot. Further advanced while Leonard was in the air, Pachulia’s left foot rested almost directly beneath Leonard.

Pachulia was whistled for a foul for, in essence, invading Leonard’s landing area, which actually is a foul -- despite it being a common action by defenders. That it resulted in Leonard leaving the game, imperiling his status for the remainder of the series, ignited a firestorm of debate about Pachulia’s intention.

“A two-step lead-with-your-foot closeout is not appropriate,” Popovich told reporters Monday at the team hotel in San Francisco. “It's dangerous, it's unsportsmanlike, it's just not what anybody does to anybody else. And this particular individual (Pachulia) has a history with that kind of action.”

Popovich referred to, among other incidents, a heated exchange between David West and Pachulia last season, when West was with the Spurs and Pachulia with the Dallas Mavericks.

Popovich referred to the play, which happened with 7:53 left in the third quarter, as “crap,” implying it’s typical of Pachulia.

“And because he's got this history, it can't just be, ‘Oh, it was inadvertent,’ ” Popovich said. “He didn't have intent. Who gives a damn about what his intent was? You ever hear of manslaughter? You still go to jail, I think, when you're texting and you end up killing somebody, but you might not have intended to do that. All I care about is what I saw. All I care about is what happened and the history there exacerbates the whole situation and makes me very, very angry.”

Warriors acting coach Mike Brown, a close friend of and former assistant to Popovich, said the Spurs coach was speaking in support of his players. Brown also referenced another incident that, for his part, exonerates Pachulia from any intent to injure.

“Obviously, there was a chain of events that happened,” Brown said. “Right before that, Kawhi stepped on David Lee's foot and tweaked his ankle. Then, (the Pachulia-Leonard) play happened. Then at the 7:23 mark, a couple plays or a play later, Steph shot the ball and LaMarcus Aldridge went to contest, and he went underneath Steph, and Steph avoided landing on his ankle by falling to the ground.

“I even asked two of the three officials. I said, 'Hey, that's the same call that you just called on Zaza,' and both of them told me that the difference was that Kawhi landed on Zaza's foot. Steph avoided landing on LaMarcus's foot, and that's why they didn't call the foul or whatever they called on Zaza. So it's the same play.”

Pachulia made it clear neither his reputation nor the comments by Popovich will affect his approach to the game.

“I really feel bad for the guy,” Pachulia said. “I wish it didn't happen and it had a different result, basically.

“But it's a game and there are some things that you can't control. I have a lot of respect for Kawhi. I think he's one of the best players in this league. We wish him all the best to get healthy.

“But . . . this is the game of basketball. Lot of crazy stuff happens on the court, unfortunately. It's happened to me as well, and once you play this kind of physical game, intense game, things happen. My approach to this game for 14 years that I've been in the league is to play hard and give my 100%, whatever I have. So I don't agree with the calls that I'm a dirty player. I'm not a dirty player. I just love this game, and I play hard. It's how I was taught since day one, honestly. So that's what I've been doing. That's my last comment about it.”

 

Curry, Green share thoughts on Carmelo Anthony-to-Thunder trade

Curry, Green share thoughts on Carmelo Anthony-to-Thunder trade

As if the Western Conference couldn't get any more interesting, Carmelo Anthony will reportedly be traded to Oklahoma City on Monday.

With the Warriors engulfed in a war of words with President Trump over a potential visit to the White House, the media didn't have the chance to ask any of the players for their thoughts on the Anthony trade.

But afterwards, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green finally got to think about it and provided their feelings on the trade to The Undefeated.

"I don’t even know about this trade. I just heard about this trade 10 seconds ago. So, they got [Enes] Kanter and … I guess I am happy [for Anthony] because I know he wanted to get out and be in a situation where he felt like what he was doing on the court was actually productive," Curry told Marc Spears.

And the stacked Western Confernece?

“It’s going to be wild to see that trio of guys together. It’s just crazy how the West is getting stronger and stronger. It should be another tough matchup when we play them," Curry said.

While analysts and basketball fans everywhere are excited to see Anthony play with MVP Russell Westbrook and All-Star Paul George, Curry is reserve judgment until he sees the trio on the court together.

“It’s all hard to tell, because it’s all new looks. We don’t know what style [the Thunder] are going to play and how they are going to balance their attack. It will all make itself known as we go through the season," Curry said.

As for Green, he's thrilled for his Team USA teammate.

“I’m happy for him. It doesn’t change my views to who we are as a team. But I’m happy for him, definitely. I don’t hate OKC. They hate me. I don’t hate them. I don’t care. You’re adding a guy who can give you 20 [points] a night. It is definitely going to make you better. I think it definitely helps them," Green said.

The first chance Curry and the Warriors get to see Anthony and the Thunder in person is Nov. 22 in Oklahoma City.

How Donald Trump started war with sports as 'the greatest mirror for America'

How Donald Trump started war with sports as 'the greatest mirror for America'

OAKLAND -- As President Donald Trump lurches closer to certified insanity, he is unwittingly doing the country a great service that, should we survive his dangerously whimsical term, will bring us closer to realizing our potential.

He’s unifying the previously disconnected and energizing the formerly apathetic. He’s even shaming some of those previously beyond shame.

It is because of Trump’s rage, unleashed in a span of less than 24 hours, that the NBA champion Warriors were more united Saturday morning than they were Friday afternoon.

After a speech in Alabama urging NFL owners on Friday to fire any “son of a bitch” who dared to protest peacefully to shine a light on injustices, Trump woke up Saturday and turned his Twitter ire upon Stephen Curry and the Warriors, conceivably the most wholesome representatives of American sports.

“That’s not what leaders do,” Curry said after practice Saturday.

“We know we’re in a fight,” Warriors center David West said. “And we’re going to continue to fight for our right to be human beings.”

But by advocating the job loss of peaceful protesters and then informing the Warriors they are not welcome at the White House -- because Curry said he’s not in favor of going -- we can only hope Trump has flung open a door of activism that never closes.

Trump’s radical combo ignited mighty blasts of blowback from players and coaches and commissioners of the NBA and NFL.

Among the many NBA figures issuing statements in one form or another, with varying degrees of condemnation: LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, the players association and commissioner Adam Silver.

“The amount of support I saw around the league this morning was amazing,” Curry said.

Among the many NFL figures who were moved to comment: Seahawks players Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett, Broncos lineman Max Garcia, 49ers owner Jed York, New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, Packers boss Mark Murphy, the players association and commissioner Roger Goodell.

Trump has, in short, started a war with American sports.

His strike began with the comments made Friday night that were directed at Colin Kaepernick and others who have declined to stand for the anthem. Trump’s aggression intensified Saturday when he went after Curry in the morning and Goodell in the afternoon.

How did we get here?

The Warriors on Friday announced their plan to meet as a team Saturday morning to decide whether they would accept from the White House the traditional invitation extended to championship teams. Though it was fairly certain they would not, they left open the slightest possibility. General manager Bob Myers had been in contact with White House.

Curry at the time said he, personally, did not wish to go, and then he carefully and patiently expounded on his reasons.

Trump responded, at 5:45 a.m. Saturday, to tell the world that the Warriors would not be invited and, moreover, that Curry’s resistance is the reason.

And all hell broke loose.

The Warriors came back Saturday afternoon with a statement that made clear there no longer would be a team meeting on the subject, that they were disappointed there was no open dialogue and that they will instead utilize their February visit to “celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion -- the values we embrace as an organization.”

“Not surprised,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Trump’s decision not to invite the Warriors to the White House. “He was going to break up with us before we could break up with him.”

Trump has fired upon every athlete in America. He is waking up this country in ways we’ve never seen or felt and, my goodness, he’s doing so at a level we’ve needed for centuries.

“Trump has become the greatest mirror for America,” West said. “My cousin . . . she brought that to me. Because there are a lot of things have been in the dark, hidden, and he’s just bold enough to put it out on ‘Front Street.’"