After San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s ire-filled rant regarding Zaza Pachulia’s closeout on a Kawhi Leonard three-pointer that resulted in Leonard being injured, certain people used questionable logic to defend Pachulia. These people argued that Popovich has no room to criticize dirty players since he once coached a player who was perceived by many to be a dirty player. That player, Bruce Bowen, spoke out Tuesday against Pachulia’s closeout. From Mike Monroe of Bleacher Report:
“Well, I used to hate it when people called me dirty. I thought it was unfair when people just piggyback on what other people say. And I still do.”
But Bowen has no sympathy whatsoever for Pachulia.
“That play? I’ve watched it and, yeah, I thought he took an extra step,” he said. “Plenty of time to stop where he did, but he continued moving in that direction of Kawhi. That seems like it’s intentional and it’s definitely dangerous.”
“What was his intent?” Bowen said. “You can rewind something five times and convince yourself of anything. What I saw, he kept moving in that direction after he contested the shot. You know you have to let a player come down. He kept walking into that space, so, for me, that says more about the intent.”
“I don’t know what is going to happen to Zaza,” Bowen said, “but if that had been me, I know what would have happened: suspension.”
Based on the video, it’s impossible to know what Pachulia’s intent was on that play. There’s no doubt that it was dangerous, though. Pachulia probably should be suspended for a game or two, but it’s hard to label the play as absolutely intentional.