Zaza Pachulia: Kawhi Leonard Didn't Respond When I Tried to Apologize in 2017

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2020

Detroit Pistons center Zaza Pachulia (27) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

During the 2017 Western Conference Finals, then-Warriors center Zaza Pachulia arguably altered the course of the series when he contested a Kawhi Leonard shot, getting into his landing area and injuring the then-Spurs star.

Given Pachulia's reputation around the league as a dirty player, many felt the play was on purpose, something the big man has consistently denied.

In an interview with Grant Liffmann of NBC Sports, Pachulia told his side of the story and revealed he reached out to Leonard after the game. 

"One of the first things I did, after my incident with Kawhi, I didn't have his number, but we are family in the NBA, so I found his number and I texted him," Pachulia said. "I apologized to him, whatever happened I told him 'Listen, this definitely was not on purpose, and hopefully he's going to get back soon on the court.' I wanted him to know from me, because there were so many words out there from left or right, I just wanted him to hear from me."

Leonard did not respond to Pachulia's overture.

"No, he didn't, and I was not expecting his response," Pachulia said. "My main goal was for him to know from me that I really was sorry for whatever happened, and from man-to-man from him to know, it was not on purpose. Because a lot of our colleagues, unfortunately, were saying I purposely did it ... "

The injury helped expedite Leonard's departure from San Antonio, as he missed nearly all of the 2017-18 season before demanding a trade and leading the Toronto Raptors to a championship in 2019. The Spurs' handling of Leonard's injury is seen as one of the main reasons he chose to force his way out of San Antonio.