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Intentional or Not: Zaza Pachulia's Dangerous Fall

Of course, Pachulia denies that it was his intention to hurt Russell Westbrook but pundits and players have different takes.

Basketball, despite the excitement and the entertainment that it has been bringing to millions of spectators around the world, is first and foremost a physical game. Most of the time, you will see players banging their bodies just to get past their defenders which occasional throwing of elbows. Despite limitations, in terms of how far physical play can be tolerated there are many instances when dirty plays have been able to escape the eyes of the referees and in most of those instances, there were no whistles that have been blown.

One perfect example of a dirty, dangerous play that escaped the eyes of the referees is the one involving Zaza Pachulia and Russell Westbrook in yesterday's game between the  Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder which was won by the Warriors, of course. Below is the replay of that specific play:

(Video from the Facebook page of Bleacher Report)

Russell Westbrook was beaten out for a rebound by Nick Young and both players tangled by their legs, subsequently falling down. Then, Zaza Pachulia followed the two players falling and landed on Westbrook. What happened next was Zaza Pachulia was seen putting force on his left arm as it landed on Westbrook, hurting the reigning MVP in the process before sprinting back on offense. He didn't even bother to help Westbrook back on his feet. He just sprinted away as if it was nothing serious. But we all know that it could have been worse.

Of course, Zaza Pachulia denied that he intentionally dropped his body on Westbrook to hurt him. But then, this wasn't the first time Zaza Pachulia was being criticized for his "dirty" tactics. Remember in last season's playoffs when Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs got hurt after landing on Zaza Pachulia's foot?

It was questioned by many but Pachulia escaped unpunished. Of course, Zaza Pachulia denied that time that he was his intention to place his foot where Leonard was supposed to land his foot upon taking a jump shot.  That wasn't even the first time Zaza Pachulia "unintentionally" took out an opposing team's best player. And Russell Westbrook certainly won't be the last unless the NBA decides to take actions against these "accidental" and "unintentional" falls because a bad fall could end someone's career.


Regardless if it's intentional or not, that sequence could have been a bad ending for Russell Westbrook. The Thunder are fortunate that their MVP was able to walk it off although Westbrook and Paul George both called out on Zaza Pachulia for his dirty antics. If the NBA won't take a look at incidents like these, then many players will just allow themselves to fall into someone and say it wasn't their intention to hurt that someone. 

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