© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Zaza Pachulia and Klay Thompson have developed quite the friendship since Pachulia joined the Warriors before the 2016-17 season.
Earlier this season, the two made a bet on which player would dunk first. Thompson famously missed two straight dunks during his China visit last offseason, which spawned a new nickname, ‘China Klay,’ much to Pachulia’s enjoyment.
— Zaza Pachulia (@zaza27) June 24, 2017
It did not take long for a winner to emerge. Thompson threw down a dunk in Golden State’s second game of the year at New Orleans. Their competition evolved into a season-long affair, and Pachulia edged out Thompson with a 13-11 advantage.
“The winner is Zaza, absolutely,” Pachulia told KNBR’s Murph and Mac Monday morning.
On Friday, another Zaza-Klay memory formed, after the Warriors swept the Cavaliers in the 2018 NBA Finals. Thompson photo-bombed Pachulia’s celebratory photo with his two sons, in typical Klay fashion.
“I am still mad about that picture because he ruined our family picture,” Pachulia said. “That’s crazy.”
When Pachulia was asked whether he would allow Thompson to run a basketball camp with him in Georgia, Pachulia’s native country, the Warriors center quipped.
“That’s the scary part: if he’s going to act like (he did) in China, I don’t know what the kids can learn from it,” Pachulia said.
Pachulia took a bench role throughout these playoffs as Warriors head coach Steve Kerr played the younger, more mobile Warriors big men. Pachulia said he viewed himself as another coach. And more than the winning itself, he said he values the friendships that have developed during these championship runs, and throughout his 15 years in the NBA.
“I feel like (Thompson) is my family member, seriously,” Pachulia said. “Life still goes on after basketball. Friendship is forever. I believe that real friends, they stick together for the rest of their life. That’s what I am most proud of, what I am most happy about, to get to know these guys, especially Klay. If I have to leave for Georgia, or if I decide to leave for a different state here, I will still be in touch. I don’t know how fast he is going to respond to my calls and text messages, but his number will be in my phone, and I will be bugging him.”
Listen to the full interview below. Skip forward to the 3:15 mark to hear Pachulia talk about Thompson.