It’s been well-publicized by the media how Zaza Pachulia is being voted into this year’s All-Star game purely because of the fact he is from the Republic of Georgia. After the second round of votes have come in, Pachulia has amassed 823,376 votes, putting him second in the West Frontcourt, only behind his Golden State teammate Kevin Durant.
But a Reddit user by the name of “NK-AK” has let everyone know why Georgian NBA fans are voting for Zaza every day.
“After the first results of All-Star voting was released, I have read many comments about Zaza (Here on r/NBA, on various [Facebook] pages, Twitter and so on), or to say better, about how he got so many votes and [a] good amount of them were/are very wrong. From ‘Warriors fans are voting for him’ to ‘Georgian hackers hacked our elections!’ (well I get, it’s funny) Considering that it hasn’t improved after yesterday either, I think it would be interesting for NBA fans to get more information about Zaza and why he is so loved in [the] Republic of Georgia.
First of all, no, it’s not Warriors nation voting everyone in their team to All-Star, no one hacked All-Star voting and most certainly, no one is trying to meme him to NOLA for fun. It’s all on us, Georgians voting daily for him, using FB, Gmail, Twitter, NBA.com and everything possible to vote for him. It even went so far that people were told: ‘This is how to vote for Zaza using Google, if you don’t have Gmail, go get one’.
Yes, we are proud of him and I think for a right reason.
When USSR collapsed, Zaza was just a kid, situation in Georgia quickly become comparable to the wild west: first there was a civil war, followed by war against Russian supported separatists and everything collapsed, there was no rule of law, rival brotherhoods were killing each other for property left after collapse of USSR, good percentage of kids of Zaza’s age wanted to become member of Brotherhoods instead of achieving anything in life, living in the country was extremely hard, endless lines for bread, at best several hours of electricity in day and so on.
Life was next to impossible for athletes too, I mean established stars, for example Olympic champion Kakhiashvili opted for Greek citizenship and left [the] country because no one could provide even basic things required for training, there wasn’t even heating and hot water in gyms.
Now, you can imagine the hardship Zaza Pachulia had to endure to make it first to [the] Turkish League and then into [the] NBA and I am not even talking about basketball traditions and schools, they are to this day almost non-existent in our country. Everything he has ever achieved he achieved because of his insane working culture and sacrifice. I once heard that early in his career in Orlando he continued playing with broken tooth, swallowing his own blood so coach didn’t bench him, I don’t know is this story true or not but needless to say that while Zaza Pachulia has never been extremely talented, he has always been [an] extremely ‘talented’ fighter, he wasn’t intimidated by anyone or anything, he accepted every challenge both on and off court.
Now Zaza is a veteran NBA player, it’s insane what he achieved with limited talent and athleticism (well, I think we can agree he isn’t as athletic as Deandre or Shaq). Zaza Pachulia, who started playing ball in a destroyed country, in a frozen, broken court, got into [the] NBA and has been playing for 14 seasons there.
And although Republic of Georgia didn’t help him in anything, he achieved everything he has only because of his hard work and fighting spirit, he never ever said ‘NO’ when he was asked to play for Georgian National team, doesn’t matter how meaningless the game was or how bad our team was. I could remember at least one game against Poland when Zaza Played Injured, risking everything he had for a country what did NOTHING for him, just because said country needed his help.
Although many Georgians may disagree, I think Zaza Is the only reason why Basketball is so Popular in Georgia, without him, Georgian National Basketball team would be nowhere near it’s now. While we are far away from top European teams, all we can be proud of is reaching 1/8 finals and playing every Eurobasket in last few years, which of course isn’t much, but again we are country of 4.5 million people with little to no basketball schools and not a long ago we were trying hard to reach A division, trying hard and failing.
I think if basketball has any future in Georgia, Zaza will have lions share in future success and popularity of it.
He did so much for us, to our country while our country did nothing for him, I will go us far us saying that my country doesn’t deserve People like Zaza Pachulia and yet, here he is.
We can’t do much to say “Thank YOU” to Zaza for all these things he did for our country, which our country didn’t deserve. Last season, I don’t remember how it started but Zaza had solid stat line (well, he wasn’t posting 20/10 stats per game, but for [a] role player, it was very solid) and people started [the] campaign to get him into [the] All-Star [game]. Many people did it mistakenly, voting several times in 24 hours, misspelling ‘NBA’ and so on and Zaza fell 14K votes short. This season people are better prepared and here we are now, Zaza has more than 800K votes. I will go as far as saying that he is only thing that unites us all, all of us support different politicians, we are either liberal or conservative, right wing or left wing, disagree who is the best soccer player in the world, disagree on almost everything but in the end of the day we all vote for Zaza.
I watch NBA for several years (Grizzlies vs Spurs game 1 was the first game I watched from start to end) and I vote for Zaza every time and I don’t feel guilt. Of course I know that Zaza isn’t [a] top center, believe me, even people who have never ever watched NBA know that there are many big men better than him in NBA, but if All-Star game is for fans, there are millions of ‘fans’ who would want to see Zaza in all Star game more than they want to see AD or KAT.
I know that we can’t get him to All-Star [weekend] because of rule changes, but for me (and I think most of Georgians and for Zaza himself) it’s not the most important thing in this story, after all this is the only way we can say “thank you” to Zaza.”
As you can see, Georgians voting for Zaza means more than just seeing their countryman in the All-Star game. Georgian NBA fans want to say thank you to someone who has struggled so hard to make it to where he is now, and someone who has stayed loyal to his home country, despite things that would’ve made most people want to never go back.