Gregg Popovich sent his Zaza Pachulia-has-a-history message Monday, a detailed and extended review of Pachulia’s M.O. in the wake of Kawhi Leonard’s resprained left ankle which will cost him Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.
Popovich also sent his usual unspoken-yet-clear “That’s a dumb question” snark-o-gram, but I suspect he did that just for his own amusement, especially after he finished with a request for a follow-up question that floored the house.
In other words, he chose Monday to love the media. He genuinely loves it with a utilitarian backhand, in much the same way that a proper artisan loves a good hammer and chisel. I mean, you like the tool and all, but you probably wouldn’t buy it flowers.
But Popovich had a tale to move, that of Pachulia’s culpability in Leonard’s game-changing injury early in the third quarter of Game 1. He wanted people to know the following:
(A) He’s quite irked about losing Leonard for Game 2 and perhaps beyond on what he believes was at best a cynical foul and at worst a dirty play.
(B) He expects that the officials for Game 2 (whom I am guessing will be Mike Callahan, Bill Kennedy and Ed Malloy, give or take a Pat Fraher) will take proper extrajudicial notice of the incident and somehow treat the Spurs with greater care.
And (C) he does not intend to go down 2-0 in this series without a fight on all fronts, including the psychological one.
So, with the mandatory humor-the-proles session Monday to be done anyway, he used it to best benefit and sent that three-pronged message. And he was probably grateful to have the opportunity, though he wouldn’t have needed permission to do so.
You see, Popovich, being the smart guy he is, knows that even painfully obligatory tasks can be put to use when needed, and he did so to great effect Monday, in large part because he meant every word of it. He thinks Pachulia is effectively clumsy in that Andrew Bogut way, and sometimes effectively extra-legal, also in that Andrew Bogut way. Pachulia is an industrial-strength center with the subtleties of a rhinoceros horn in the abdomen, because that’s how he got to stay in the league so long. You do what you gots to do, after all.
Popovich’s rantlet doesn’t heal Leonard’s ankle any faster, and may not even convince Tony Brothers, Sean Wright and Jim Capers, (give or take a Sean Corbin) to be any more mindful of Pachulia’s illusory subtleties. But looking at the hand is left to play, and then the Warriors’ hand, he realized that desperate times call for desperate measures.
Like needing the media for a few minutes – the length of a properly constructed rock song, and the outer limit of the modern person’s attention span.
In short, Gregg Popovich played the role left to him on the off-day between games. It’s all part of knowing what’s on the tool belt.