By now, everyone knows the story.
Spurs star Kawhi Leonard re-injured his left ankle in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on a play involving Zaza Pachulia. As soon as it was known that Leonard would miss playing time -- he was ruled out for Games 2 and 3 and he has been ruled out for Game 4 -- Pachulia has been receiving death threats.
Under no circumstances is this acceptable behavior in a so-called civilized society. But even this wasn't enough for some San Antonio fans, who pushed things even further by threatening Pachulia's children. As a result of this vile level of fanaticism, Pachulia has had to put his family under security protection.
"Me, as a person, as a man, I don't mind dealing with it," Pachulia said. "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."
Anyone who doesn't have a major problem with this downward spiral of events needs to look in the mirror and reconsider their fitness for membership in said civilized society. If a Spurs player goes out and punches a Warriors star in the face tonight, giving him a concussion that forces him to leave the game, that Spurs player and his family would not deserve death threats even if the action was intentional and fueled by malice.
In the realm of the asinine, a Spurs fan has filed a lawsuit against Pachulia and the Warriors organization.
Let's pause ...
Take a deeeeep breath ...
And get a clue!
When Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat forced Rajon Rondo to the ground in a playoff game, resulting in a dislocated elbow evidenced by Rondo's forearm grotesquely bent in an unnatural direction, did Boston Celtics fans sue Wade and the Heat?
When Celtics star Kelly Olynyk dislocated Kevin Love's shoulder in a playoff game, resulting in Love needing shoulder surgery and missing the rest of the postseason, did Cleveland Cavaliers fans sue Olynyk and the Celtics organization?
The aforementioned examples show truly egregious on-court behavior; of course, there are many more examples in the annals of NBA history. But the league has protocols in place to deal with flagrant contact to another player.
Yes, the system is imperfect, just as the criminal justice system in the country is heavily flawed. But the only commonsense approach -- for both basketball fans and citizens at-large -- is to work towards changing the systems, not towards taking matters into their own hands.
Now, let's see if the Warriors can complete its third sweep of the playoffs and advance to the team's third NBA Finals in three years! It'd be great if this could happen with great competition between the two squads, all players walking off the court healthy at the end of the game, and zero death threats or lawsuits.
GSW: Andre Iguodala (available: left knee soreness); Zaza Pachulia (out: right heel contusion); Kevon Looney (out: hip).
SAS: David Lee (out: partially torn patella); Kawhi Leonard (out).