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Was Zaza’s Play Dirty Against Kawhi Leonard?

Thearon W. Henderson
Thearon W. Henderson Getty Images

Was Zaza Pachulia’s defense play against Spurs star Kawhi Leonard a “dirty” play? That question is being debated across social media and by fans across the country.

The answer though may be a lot easier to obtain than some critiques of Zaza would like to admit.

If I am correct, Zaza and Kawhi were involved in the play and both of them are saying it was a clean play.

According to this is was Pachulia said about the play.

“I just did what I was supposed to do and challenged his shot. I turned around, and there was a call,” Pachulia said. “I didn’t notice that he was down until I turned back, actually. So I didn’t see what happened there.”

Also according to, this is what Leonard said when asked about the play.

“Did he step under it? Like, on purpose?” Leonard asked. “No. He was contesting the shot. The shot clock was coming down. I’ll have to see the play.”

So if the two involved say it wasn’t dirty and you still are questioning it, let me add some more context.

I reached out to three former NBA players including one former Spurs player who all told me that they didn’t believe it was a dirty play by Zaza.

One described the situation as his past being used against him when in this case he did nothing wrong.

I’m not defending Zaza’s career as being a squeaky clean player, but in this case the “dirty” comments are unwarranted and really a whiny response by some Spurs supporters to try and ease the pain of blowing a 20+ lead for the second time this season to the Warriors.

I hope Kawhi is back and ready to go for Game 2, because he clearly can make this series very interesting.

But regardless if he returns or not, lets move on from this false narrative that Zaza was trying to injure one of the games greats.

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