Warriors

Zaza Pachulia: Popovich's words 'very big part' of threats to family

Zaza Pachulia: Popovich's words 'very big part' of threats to family

Zaza Pachulia can take being the villain in the opposing fans' eyes. But when it turns to his family, the situation becomes much different. 

Pachulia revealed Sunday to USA Today that security guards were sent to his childrens' school in San Francisco recently as a precaution after his family received threats. Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard injured his ankle in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals after landing on Pachulia's foot and many questioned Pachulia's actions in the play. 

One person who made his feelings on Pachulia's actions loud and clear is Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, even using the word "manslaughter" in a rant that deemed the big man a dirty player. 

“I don’t blame everything on Pop, but what he said had a lot of influence (and) you had a lot of people where, unfortunately, you can’t control what everybody’s intelligence is,” Pachulia said. “(Fans) just hear the message, and it’s, ‘Ok, Pop said so and now let’s do this.’ It’s just wrong. You’ve got to think, and realize. Threaten me, but don’t threaten my wife or say something about my kids. It’s just wrong.

“Me as a person, as a man, I don’t mind dealing with it. But I hate to see my family deal with it. My wife and my kids who have nothing to do with it, who are very innocent. ... I just hate my family going through that. They don’t deserve that. … I’m not blaming everything on (Popovich), but he was a very big part of it.”

Pachulia then went into more detail with what happened at his childrens' school. 

“Look at what happened at the school. It was unfortunate. They had to get extra security because we are living in a world today where social media is so active, you can find any news you want to, hear any news you want to, and obviously it’s a hot topic lately. They just had hired extra security for the entrance, and make sure nobody goes in the school," Pachulia said. "It’s just not fair. It does upset me."

The 33-year-old Pachulia showed his respects for Popovich as a person and a coach. What he wishes most is that Popovich would have chosen his words better. 

"I have a lot of respect for him," Pachulia said. "In today’s basketball world, he’s a very, very respected person. So when Pop says something like that, calling me out ... it's understanding that (your words) will have an effect.

"I’m going to do defend my team, but I’m not going to send a message saying this guy killed (a player), is a murderer or whatever, manslaughter, because people take it differently. We live in a society where not everybody has intelligence, or understanding or is thinking of what’s right and what’s wrong. We’re going to move on. Hopefully (the fans) can let it go. But you know, I’m sure that a year later, 10 years later, (his family is) still going to remember this moment – and not in a good way. It’s something where your heart breaks, and even though life goes on you still feel it in a bad way. I think that’s going to be the case.”

The Warriors lead the Spurs 3-0 in the Western Conference Finals. Pachulia was ruled out of Game 3 with a right heel contusion he sustained in Game 3. He is listed as questionable for Game 4. 

Many reasons why Klay Thompson wants to play for Warriors his entire career

Many reasons why Klay Thompson wants to play for Warriors his entire career

Don’t fall for the stories implying the Warriors, because they are so collaborative, are a team comprising individuals without ego. It’s an oft-implied crock, a myth that fits a particular and happy narrative.

So please dismiss the notion that Klay Thompson is without ego. If he were, he would not be a four-time All-Star. And he surely would not be so swaggeringly confident that every jump shot he takes, no matter the conditions or whether he has missed nine in a row, is destined to drop through the net.

Thompson, 28, has a keen awareness of his interests, and being individually celebrated for basketball is nowhere near the top of his list. Despite the bon vivant lifestyle conveyed through social media, his hoops motto is not “look at me” but “look at us.”

So when Thompson becomes a free agent next July -- unless he agrees to a prior extension -- he isn’t the type to shop himself with designs on being “that dude.” Those emotionally attached to the Warriors can take comfort when Thompson says, as he did a few days ago, that he wants to be a Warrior “for life.”

Thompson’s father, Mychal, whose NBA career lasted 13 years, took it step further.

“You can mark it down,” Mychal Thompson said over the weekend.

This is in accord with what I was told in a conversation with Mychal last month. In multiple chats over the past year, he has been firm in his belief that his son would re-sign with the Warriors.

It’s in line with what Klay told NBC Sports Bay Area last Sept. 29, saying he wanted to be a part of a group that could “be known as one of the greatest teams of our era.”

As Thompson’s incumbent team, the Warriors have the advantage. They can pay him more than any other team might offer. And he is amenable to taking a discounted contract -- though discounted only so much.

The Warriors have given every indication they understand Thompson’s value, which goes beyond the tangible. He has played for two NBA coaches, Mark Jackson and Steve Kerr, both of whom concluded Thompson requires zero maintenance. That attribute, folks, is rare and precious.

Growing up the middle son in a NBA household, Klay was taught to appreciate collective success. When he says he doesn’t take the prosperity of the Warriors for granted, as he often does, he means it.

Growing up between two athletic brothers, Mychel and Trayce, Klay learned teamwork in a very real sense. Julie Thompson is more reticent than her husband Mychal -- as is 99 percent of the world’s population -- but is, above all, a voice of reason. When she speaks, the family listens.

Since being drafted in 2011, Thompson has made six trips to the playoffs in seven seasons, missing only as a rookie.  Of those six consecutive playoff appearances, the last four have landed the Warriors in the NBA Finals, with three championships to show for it. He has been the physical backbone of the squad, missing the fewest games and excelling on both offense and defense.

Thompson has had, by any measure, a charmed career. He knows this would not be true if not for the contributions of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Andre Igoudala, Shaun Livingston and a couple dozen others who wore the same jersey.

So when it’s time to put a name in big, bold letters atop the marquee, Klay would be the last Warrior to care. He doesn’t want it, partly because he doesn’t like it but mostly such trivialities give him no gratification.

Nah, he’d rather ride this wave for as long as it’s going.

Mychal Thompson wants Klay to emulate James Harden in one aspect in 2018-19

Mychal Thompson wants Klay to emulate James Harden in one aspect in 2018-19

Klay Thompson is a well-rounded, versatile player. He shot 52.6 percent from 2-point range last season. He shot 44 percent from 3-point range. He made 83.7 percent of his free throws. He averaged 2.5 assists per game. He's the Warriors' best perimeter defender.

There's not a noticeable weakness to his game.

But his father Mychal spoke to the San Francisco Chronicle's Scott Ostler on Saturday to talk about what kind of differences we'll see in Klay will be during the 2018-19 season and he shared the goal he's set for his son.

"I think you'll see a hungrier player. He's going to try to get more versatile, try to get to the basket a little more, more free throws, being more efficient on offense that way. I always tell him, try to make it a goal to shoot eight (free throws) a game. Eight or 10, like James Harden does," Mychal Thompson told Ostler.

Thompson attempted a career low 1.3 free throw attempts last season. His high-water mark was 3.3 free throw attempts per game during the 2014-15 season. By comparison, Harden attempted 10.1 free throw attempts last season and has surpassed 10 attempts per game in five of the last six seasons.

Of course, the elder Thompson was asked about his son's free agency next summer. Klay told the Bay Area News Group on Saturday that he wants to remain with the Warriors for the rest of his career. His father said the same thing at the Thompson Family Foundation's charity golf tournament on Saturday.

“Oh yeah, you can mark it down. Klay’s going to retire in the Warriors’ uniform. He’s going to play at Chase Center (the Warriors’ new arena, opening in 2019), and he’s not going to be at Chase Center as a visiting player, he’s going to be a Warrior for the next seven or eight years," Mychal said according to The Chronicle.