Gregg Popovich drew a line in the sand Monday. He called Zaza Pachulia a dirty player and said that he intentionally injured Kawhi Leonad’s ankle in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
Well, not only does NBA-TV analyst Jared Greenberg disagree, but he also doesn’t think that Popovich has a leg to stand on (no pun intended).
“Gregg Popovich puts out this propaganda and it’s put out there for us to examine Zaza Pachulia, but why don’t we examine Gregg Popovich and the Spurs, who had maybe the dirtiest player in the last 20 years in the game in Bruce Bowen?” Greenberg asked on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Gregg Popovich didn’t have a problem with what Bruce Bowen did to guys. It really confuses me how it’s always on Gregg Popovich’s terms on when basketball is just a game and a make-or-miss game and when it needs to be compared to manslaughter like he put it (Monday). It’s always got to be on his terms, which is kind of head-scratching to me in this situation.”
Does it make Popovich a hypocrite?
“I think he is,” Greenberg said. “If you’re directly talking about Bruce Bowen and Zaza Pachulia, then yeah – because if we just had to deal with it back then with Bruce Bowen, well then how come the Spurs just don’t have to deal with it with Zaza Pachulia?”
And again, Greenberg does not think Pachulia intentionally hurt Leonard.
“Absolutely (not),” he said. “I understand there are instances of him clear as day being very forceful or getting guys in positions that are considered dirty . . . but I don’t think he’s thinking that way. I don’t think a player (has that thought in the middle of the play).”
Even if the Spurs had won Game 1, Greenberg doesn’t think they would have won the series.
“Listen, I didn’t think with a 100 percent healthy Kawhi Leonard that the Spurs stood a chance against the Warriors,” Greenberg said. “Now you can point to the fact that they had built a 20-point lead and they were looking good, but look all throughout these playoffs: when teams lose, then tend to, for whatever reason, lose big.”
Greenberg reminded listeners that the Warriors overcame a 22-point deficit in San Antonio in March. The Spurs had a healthy Kawhi Leonard, a healthy Tony Parker, and they still coughed up a huge lead and lost by 12.
“This team has proven they can come out of these deficits,” Greenberg said of the Warriors. “Now did it help their cause that Kawhi Leonard wasn’t in down the stretch? Absolutely, no doubt about it. But even if the Spurs would have held on to win that game, even if they had a healthy Kawhi Leonard, I still felt at halftime of that game that moving forward the Warriors would still find a way to dominate this series and find their groove because they’re so much of a better team than the Spurs are.”