Kawhi Leonard rolled his ankle in Oakland Sunday night after falling awkwardly on Zaza Pachulia’s foot during the San Antonio Spurs’ 113-111 Game 1 loss to the Golden State Warriors, and Gregg Popovich is angry.

Gregg Popovich Slams Zaza Pachulia for Close-out on Kawhi Leonard in Game 1

The Spurs coach slammed Pachulia for his close-out on Leonard, who could miss Game 2 at Oralce Arena on Tuesday night.

Popovich criticized Pachulia’s defensive playing style, calling the Warriors center’s move “totally unnatural.”

“This is crap,” the coach added, according to ESPN’s Michael C. Wright. “Who gives a damn about his intent? Ever heard of manslaughter?”

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Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News tweeted two videos of Popovich’s remarks:


Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver provided a full transcript of the coach’s tirade against Pachulia, during which Popovich also explained the Spurs’ difficult prospects in the Western Conference Finals:


Leonard, who previously injured his ankle during an overtime Game 5 victory in the last round against Houston — and subsequently missed Games 6 and 7 — left early in the third quarter on Sunday as San Antonio led 78-55. The small forward finished with 26 points and eight rebounds in 24 minutes of play Sunday.

According to Michael Lee of The Vertical, Leonard stated after Sunday’s game that he didn’t believe Pachulia’s close-out was intentional, saying the Golden State center was simply “contesting the shot.” Evidently, his coach disagrees.

”It’s a tough break. He’s coming from an injury on that ankle and he tweaked it twice in the last minute he played,” Manu Ginobili said. ”So we couldn’t react to his absence.”

Pachulia, meanwhile, responded to Popovich’s comments by stating he has nothing but respect for the coach and his team.

“I have a lot of respect for coach Pop and the Spurs organization,” Pachulia said, before adding “I’m not a dirty player.”


Warriors interim coach Mike Brown defended Pachulia by reiterating the center’s claim: “Zaza’s not a dirty player,” Brown said.

Popovich also lambasted Donald Trump after Sunday’s game. The 68-year-old coach centered on the President’s recent comments regarding his firing of FBI Director James Comey and the investigation Comey was leading into potential ties between Trump’s administration and Russian officials, and called the President’s remarks “a ruse, disingenuous, cynical and fake.”

“Usually, things happen in the world and you go to work and you’ve got your family and you’ve got your friend and you do what you do, but to this day I feel like there’s a cloud, a pall, over the whole country, in a paranoid surreal sort of way that’s got nothing to do with the Democrats losing the election,” said Popovich, who graduated from the Air Force Academy with a bachelor’s degree in Soviet Studies in 1970 and spent active duty time as an intelligence officer in Eastern Europe. “It’s got to do with the way one individual conducts himself. It’s embarrassing. It’s dangerous to our institutions and what we all stand for and what we expect the country to be. But for this individual, he’s at a game show and everything that happens begins and ends with him, not our people or our country.”

Steph Curry scored 40 points — including a game-tying 3-pointer with 1:48 left — on Sunday for Golden State, which overcame a 25-point deficit to win the game, including an 18-0 run after Leonard exited in the third quarter.

SAN ANTONIO,TX – MAY 10: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs reacts during game against the Oklahoma City in game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 10, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas.

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