Warriors

Appreciative Pachulia jokes about All-Star votes: 'You think it's a hack?'

Appreciative Pachulia jokes about All-Star votes: 'You think it's a hack?'

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OAKLAND -- Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia leads all centers in early ballot returns for the upcoming NBA All-Star Game, and Draymond Green couldn’t be happier for his teammate.

Even if Pachulia’s stunning popularity has, at least for now, an effect on Green’s chances to be voted in as a starter for the Western Conference team.

“Shout-out to Zaza,” Green said, grinning Friday morning after shootaround. “Big ups to Zaza.”

The ballot for All-Star Game starters lists two categories: frontcourt and backcourt. Pachulia and Green both are frontcourt players, as is Warriors teammate Kevin Durant. Through returns of Jan. 4, Durant leads all Western Conference frontcourt players with 541,209 votes. Pachulia is second with 439,675.

Green, a member of the 2016 All-Star team, is fifth, with 236,315 votes. In third place is Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, with Pelicans forward/center Anthony Davis is fourth place.

Pachulia, the journeyman center from the Republic of Georgia, is proud of his 14-year NBA career but even prouder of the support he is receiving from his country for the second straight year. With a strong push from social media, Pachulia also balloted inordinately high last season as a member of the Dallas Mavericks.

“Do you think it’s a (computer) hack?” Pachulia asked, facetiously, after shootaround.

Pachulia then turned serious, referencing the wars and the politics of Georgia, and acknowledging the national unity and resilience of 3.5 million fellow Georgians.

“All I can do is sit back and enjoy it and be thankful, be really thankful for all of this,” he said. “You can get mad if you want, or you can be happy if you want. But you can’t buy this. It’s a special moment and I really appreciate the support.

“And that’s what I care about. I don’t care about All-Star (status) and the fame that comes with it and the recognition that comes with it. I care about the support and the love I’m getting. It kind of tells me I’m doing something right. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I’m doing something for me people, for my community.”

The NBA changed the voting rules in part because of Pachulia’s strong showing last season. Fan voting has been reduced from 100 percent of the equation to 50 percent, with players and media now accounting for 25 percent each in a weighted system.

"It’s the Zaza Rule,” Green said. “I don’t know it’s going to work against that one, though. He has a lot of votes.”

For what it’s worth, Green says he was irritated by Pachulia’s showing last season but now sees it “pretty hilarious,” partly because the two are teammates.

“I’m definitely voting for Zaza,” Green said. “We’re going to start campaigning for him for the (other) players to vote for him, too.”

Balloting concludes on Jan. 16, with the starters announced three days later.

A Warriors fantasy 13-man team from the past

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AP

A Warriors fantasy 13-man team from the past

Stephen Curry is a two time MVP. Kevin Durant is a one-time MVP and four-time scoring champ. Draymond Green is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Klay Thompson, owner of the game’s most picturesque jumper, once scored 60 points in 29 minutes.

The Warriors not only have reached the playoffs in five consecutive seasons for the first time since moving to California in 1962 but also own the single-season wins record and have won two championships over the last three seasons.

All of which explains why fans, athletes and coaches following the NBA tend to shower them with praise. They respect the coaching staff, are impressed with the front office and envy the roster.

Longtime fans know this is a completely new feeling. They recall so many past Warriors teams with sardonic fondness because, well, the bad old days in the Bay were a local joke.

As the team’s play-by-play man since 1995, Tim Roye remembers those days, and we discussed them on this week’s Warriors Insider Podcast. Specifically, I asked Roye to name his personal 13-man roster generated from Warriors between his arrival in ’95 and the drafting of Stephen Curry in 2009.

Roye’s draft picks, along with many of his other observations, are available on the podcast. Mine, which were not given on the podcast, are available here.

BACKCOURT/WINGS

In alphabetical order: Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, Jason Richardson and Latrell Sprewell.

Arenas, taken in the second round of the 2001 draft, quickly became a local sensation. He was here for only two seasons and, despite the pleas of local fans, left for big money as a free agent. At his best, his scoring skill was unsurpassed.

Davis, stolen in a 2005 trade with Charlotte, gave the Warriors a much-needed shot of credibility the minute he walked through the door. Following a lot of bad Warriors deals, BD was the best player trade acquisition since Bernard King in 1980.

Ellis, selected sfrom a Mississippi high school in the second round of the 2005 draft, came to California as a shy teenager and eventually blossomed into electricity in sneakers. He was a wonderful scorer with crazy quicks and a deadly midrange J.

Hardaway, drafted out of UTEP in the first round, 14th overall in 1989, was the original crossover king, except he referred to it as the UTEP two-step. Difficult to contain and utterly fearless, he is a Hall of Famer in waiting.

Mullin, drafted out of St. John’s in the first round, seventh overall in 1985, Mullin was a fabulous shooter and a deft passer who became a five-time All-Star as a Warrior. His Hall of Fame ticket was punched in 2011.

Richardson, drafted from Michigan State in the first round, fifth overall in 2001, quickly became the team’s most exciting player. That he won the dunk contest as a rookie, and again the next season, provided a rare thrill for local fans.

Sprewell, drafted 24th overall out of Alabama in 1992, was popular until he jumped coach P.J. Carlesimo and was suspended and shipped out of town in 1997. Over a 19-year stretch ending in 2013, he was the team’s only All-Star. He made it three times.

FRONTCOURT

In alphabetical order: Andris Biedrins, Antawn Jamison, Stephen Jackson, Troy Murphy, Joe Smith.

Selected in the first round, 11th overall, in 2004, Biedrins was only 18 when he came to America. He had good hands, rebounded well and was developing into a solid center before he fell victim to confidence issues and the trappings of the good life.

Jamison, selected in a bizarre draft-day deal in 1998, was the best player on some wretched teams. A good rebounder and scorer -- he once had back-to-back 50-point games -- the power forward became an All-Star after he left the Warriors in 2003.

Jackson was picked up in a January 2007 trade with Indiana and it didn’t take long to see his value at both ends. The small forward who could play big makes this team for one primary reason: He stole Dirk Nowitzki’s soul in the 2007 playoffs.

Murphy was the second of two first-round picks in 2001, 14th overall. He wasn’t particularly athletic but he was an effective rebounder and a good shooter. He’d be a stretch-big, somewhere between Ryan Anderson and Mo Speights.

Smith was the team’s most recent No. 1 overall pick, in 1995. A natural power forward, he was named to the All-Rookie first team and was even better the next season. He faded in his third season, was traded and never reached full potential.

SIXTH MAN

Jamal Crawford. Easy call. A Warriors for only 54 games in 2008-09, that was plenty to see the three-time Sixth Man of the Year could deliver instant offense like few others.

Is it a great team? No. But it’s a playoff team. We needed 13 seasons of history, which feels like cheating until you consider the franchise went more than 10 years, from November 1994 to March 2005, without anyone honored so much as Player of the Week.

Klay Thompson randomly interviewed on local NYC news about scaffolding

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AP

Klay Thompson randomly interviewed on local NYC news about scaffolding

With a big break until their next game, the Warriors spent a couple days in New York City.

Klay Thompson spent part of his Monday walking around the city.

And as only Thompson could, he wound up appearing on a local news report. But he wasn't talking about basketball. Not even close.

Courtesy of Twitter user @MP_Trey, Thompson was interviewed on Fox 5 NY to talk about ... scaffolding.

"I usually observe if the piping and stuff is new. Sometimes, you know, something looks like it's been there a while, I try to avoid that," Thompson said in the report.

You can watch the odd video here: