As excited as everyone is about the news this week that the San Antonio Spurs may get Kawhi Leonard back before the playoffs begin, there’s a chance that The Klaw doesn’t just miss this season, but all of next season too.
Because the NBA is still letting Zaza Pachulia run wild on the league's best players.
Kawhi isn’t safe if he plays in that March 19 matchup against Golden State. And he certainly won’t be safe if the Spurs face the Warriors in another playoff series.
The NBA’s failure to act speaks volumes, especially after it was clear that on Sunday, Zaza intentionally tried to hurt Russell Westbrook by falling on him during Golden State’s game against the Oklahoma Thunder.
I’ve seen some really weird defenses of this trying to say it wasn’t intentional as if Nick Young’s foot pushing the back of Zaza’s calf could bring him down.
It seems like a good defense, and Zaza apologists are certainly treating this like a smoking gun. But Zaza is listed at 6’11, 270 pounds while Young is just 6’7 and 210 pounds.
We know that Young wasn’t trying to hurt his own teammate. He didn’t kick him in the shin. Young slightly nudged Zaza and Pachulia was somehow able to take five steps, including nearly anchoring himself completely upright before diving onto Westbrook.
Anyone saying that this wasn’t intentional is grasping at straws and ignoring the laws of physics.
Besides, a reasonable doubt argument only works if there’s no other evidence to support the fact that Zaza is the dirtiest player in the game, and not in the bad-ass Ric Flair way. He’s dirty and he will hurt your favorite player for the benefit of his team.
The compilation videos just keep getting longer.
It’s just a coincidence that Zaza nearly pulled Kawhi’s arm out of its socket. It’s just a coincidence that Zaza also elbowed Patty Mills in the head. It’s just a coincidence that Zaza also threw elbows at David West. It’s just a coincidence that Zaza also raked Russell Westbrook in the face. It’s just a coincidence that Zaza also undercut Kawhi in the playoffs. It’s just a coincidence that Zaza also slapped Luke Babbit. It’s just a coincidence that Zaza tried to trip Udonis Haslem. It’s just a coincidence that Zaza happened to throw himself back and flail his arms when he elbowed Nikola Mirotic in the face. It’s just a coincidence that Zaza kicked Danny Green in the face.
What’s scary is that the list above isn't even all the infractions against Zaza in his career. At what point does it feel like these incidents weren’t just a coincidence?
And let’s just say they weren’t. Let’s indulge those who might say that he’s just a clumsy player and he didn’t mean to hurt anybody.
He doesn’t deserve to play in the NBA if he’s going to be a danger to those around him. I guess it’s just a coincidence that this happens almost exclusively to players on the other team.
There’s another coincidence!
The NBA has to dump Zaza soon because this is a slippery slope. At a certain point, opposing teams and players will reach a breaking point and Zaza is going to be taken out by another goon. Zaza is going to come close to doing this to the Houston Rockets and suddenly Tarik Black is gonna check in and just deck Zaza in the face.
Black will officially be suspended and fined but his teammates will cover whatever money he loses and the coaches and players will have to come out and say that the NBA pushed them to that point. If the league wouldn’t protect their players, then they would have to take matters into their own hands.
This is what used to happen in the NBA. Players would have to protect each other on the court by going after the worst offenders. As a result, we used to see a lot of fights and the culture of the league stunted its own growth because the NBA front office had a hard time selling their rough and physical game of enforcers to a wider audience.
Right now, the NBA is on the verge of slipping again. And they’re just gonna let Zaza take them there.