Dear Mr. Pachulia,
Last year you were an enigma. In fact, you spent nearly 80 games picking your nose and plucking your eyebrows. But no worries, because you awoke at the perfect time. When Philips Arena was sold out to the masses, louder than ever before (see Hollinger from ESPN - "Of the five arenas I've been to in this postseason, Philips was easily the loudest"), you decided to strut your massive caucasian body out onto the court and let the NBA know of your physical prowess. You earned your playing time with hard work, a defensive intensity that the '85 Bears couldn't match, and European brute strength and intimidation. Surely, it wasn't pretty watching you muscle up ugly layups and grab critical rebounds, but we - the fans of our beloved Hawks - appreciated your hard work and newfound energy and willingness to beat the crap out of the biggest douche in the NBA.
We wondered over the offseason, would you improve? Would you take what you've learned about the playoffs and create a new drive to make it there again? Would you work on your English so your courtside interviews (however few and far between) would be even a tad more understandable? What would Zaza Pachulia, the energizer bunny of the Hawks playoff series with the Celtics, bring to the table in 2008-2009?
Well, we've seen both sides of you, Zaza, thusfar this season. When you've come out with a clear sense of intensity and urgency, you've been one of the best 8th men in the NBA. In the last game you played, on Saturday 11/29, you started and destroyed Toronto's big men on your way to 17 rebounds. 17 REBOUNDS?!?! The only player with more on the night was Emeka Okafor, who is being paid $12,000,000.00 this year. Zaza, when you come to play, you are a force. When you don't, you look like Lebron's mother being told to sit her ass down. Admittedly, you've had some serious stinkers - games where you look lost out there. Zaza, you have some games that make the fans think you just took a nyquil instead of a dayquil, like you hit the shower head with your head, or like Robert "Tractor" Traylor sat on you earlier in the day.
Are you inconsistent? Yes. Is that to be expected from a big man who gets sporadic minutes? Of course. But do the fans deserve to see you give it your all for 82 games, whether in the playoffs, heading to the playoffs, or bumbling around in last place? You better believe it. Would you like to taste some of my grandmother's sweet potato souffle? Only you can answer that.
The point is this - no matter if you start and log 25 minutes or come off the bench for 10, you should play like your salary depends on it. Is it a sham when Mike Woodson (who will get his due in another post) sits you for a whole game? Yeah...but no matter what, when you're name is called, you better bust ass. The fans want to see more of this and this, and less of this.
Zaza, you are clearly Ryan Cameron's favorite name to yell over the PA in Philips Arena (ZA ZA PACHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUULIA). Here's hoping we hear it more often.
Your Biggest Fans
P.S. - This is awesome: