December 18, 2012;Washington, D.C., USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Zaza Pachulia (27) fights for a loose ball with Washington Wizards forward Nene (42) at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Zaza Pachulia: A Man of His Word

Zaza Pachulia, or ZaZilla as I call him, has been vital to the Atlanta Hawks’ frontcourt success for several years now.

He has no plans to change that.

Pachulia has stated that he would like to stay home in Atlanta and sign a new deal, but sometimes things change. A contender like Miami or Oklahoma City – teams that need help on the boards (mainly Miami) – would love to have a big like Zaza on their roster. Who knows, they could throw millions at him to make him walk. Him leaving would be devastating to the Hawks team and the fanbase. Here’s why:

  1. The Hawks would lack his hustle and aggression that has been on display for years. When Al Horford went down with a torn pectoral muscle last season, Pachulia stepped up and provided a huge boost to make up for the loss. Having him on the roster gives the team flexibility to go big against teams like Indiana or stay small(ish) and have him be a spark off the bench. Either way, no Zaza would be trouble for the Hawks.
  2. We, as fans, need Pachulia. In the beginning of a major rebuild, Zaza looks to be one of the few Hawks remaining that the season-ticket holders adore. His toughness against the Celtics in the 2008 playoffs sparked Zaza-palooza in the ATL when he went head-to-head (literally) with eventual Hall-of-Famer Kevin Garnett during an altercation, earning the moniker “Balboa” after the lead character from the Rocky series of movies. We love Pachulia as a Hawk and he shouldn’t be anywhere else. Losing a beloved player during the midst of a total overhaul could be disastrous for the fanbase (myself included).

Zaza has proven to be a trusted character during his time here. Here’s what he said during an exit interview with AJC’s Chris Vivlamore:

Q. Will you stay in Atlanta for your rehab?

A. I mentioned Atlanta is my home. Where else can I go? I will be here all summer. Obviously there is the possibility that I won’t be playing for the (Georgia) national team this summer so you guys are going to see me around.

Q. Is there any way you are allowing it to go through your mind that you won’t return here for a quote home-town discount?

A. Again, I hope so. I really hope so. I totally understand that the Atlanta Hawks have so much work to do this summer. (There are) so many free agents and key players and the coaching staff. It’s hard to say anything. Once time goes you’ll have a better idea of the big picture but right now it’s very, very hard to say from my standpoint and from their standpoint as well. I totally understand. I have reason not to think about it because of my foot. Right now the focus is to get back on track.

Long. Live. ZaZilla.

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