No matter what happens on an NBA court, on the court is where it should remain.
When Golden State center Zaza Pachulia was involved on a play that injured San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs were understandably mad, but they kept their criticisms centered on what Pachulia did on the floor.
However, in the aftermath of the incident, Pachulia has had to take extra security measures to protect his family. Pachulia has a wife and three children under the age of 10, and he's worried about them.
On Sunday, Pachulia told USA TODAY that what San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said when he called out Pachulia for the play that injured Leonard has sparked fans to go too far on social media, to the point that he's worried for his family's safety:
“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 on Sunday. “(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 went on to say that his children's school had to add extra security due to social media threats against the Warriors' big man:
“Look at what happened at the school," he said. "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. ... It’s just not fair. It does upset me.”
Popovich and Leonard would be the first to say that they wish no harm on the Golden State big man and that their frustration strictly centers around on-court play. Pop will likely have a thoughtful response to this latest report of what Pachulia's family has gone through.
Game 4 between the two teams is Monday night in San Antonio. Pachulia missed Game 3 with an injured heel and is questionable for Game 4.
If he plays, he'll hear plenty of boos, but that's where the fan hatred should end. Threatening a player's family on social media is always crossing the line.