San Antonio Spurs: Kawhi Leonard reacts to the ‘Zaza Rule’

By Rob Wolkenbrod
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 14: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Kawhi Leonard
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 14: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Kawhi Leonard /

At San Antonio Spurs Media Day, Kawhi Leonard addressed the new “Zaza Rule” the NBA created in the offseason.

In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Kawhi Leonard suffered an ankle injury when Zaza Pachulia slid his foot in as Leonard completed a shot attempt. This cost him the rest of the series, while the San Antonio Spurs were swept by the Golden State Warriors. The score was 76-55, Spurs, at the time of the injury.

To combat this the NBA created a rule stop these aggressive closeouts. “In honor” of Pachulia, it was dubbed the “Zaza Rule.” Referees can look for malicious intent, with the ability to check instant replay.

At Monday’s Spurs Media Day, Leonard was asked about the “Zaza Rule.” According to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News, the potential NBA MVP candidate felt it was a good rule for the NBA to install:

“I think it’s good to protect the player from getting hurt,” Leonard said. “I mean it has happened in the past to players I’ve seen when I wasn’t in the NBA, so I think it’s a good rule for the defender to be cautious so he doesn’t injure a player.”

Leonard didn’t specify if he thought the play was dirty or not. If anything, seemed to put it behind him:

“I mean it’s over with now, just ready to talk about the new season. If it was dirty, if it wasn’t, it’s not going to help anything right now.”

Kawhi on the new ZaZa rule #Spurs #NBA

— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) September 25, 2017

At this point, to say it was or wasn’t dirty isn’t worth it. The play happened about four months ago, in a different season. A comment just before the 2017-18 season starts won’t do anything, unless the players decide to settle it in the next Spurs vs. Warriors game on Nov. 2. That’s hard to expect out of a Gregg Popovich-led team, however.

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Leonard and the Spurs will kick off training camp on Tuesday, Sep. 26, before the preseason starts on Monday, Oct. 2.