Zaza Pachulia is a Turkish-Georgian professional basketball player who currently plays as a center for the Golden State Warriors with whom he won his first NBA Championship. He received the Order of Honor from his country’s president, Giorgi Margvelashvili, when he returned with the Larry O’Brien trophy in August 2017.
The 6 foot 11 inches big man is regarded as a villain in the NBA by fans and has been nicknamed ‘Zaza Per Cheat Shot’ by popular NBA analyst, Skip Bayless, over the increased number of questionable incidents that have led to his opponents getting injured in games. His victims include Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard.
Zaza Pachulia was born Zaur Pachulia on February 10, 1984, in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union. He started playing the game of basketball at a very early age, most likely because he was always the tallest among all his friends and seemed a great fit with his physical attributes. It is reported that at the age of 13, Zaza was approximately six feet eight inches tall.
At the age of 15, Zaza left his native Republic of Georgia to go to Turkey and pursue a career in basketball. By this time he had already legally changed his name from Zaur to Zaza. He had also already been a member of the Georgian junior national basketball team where he was extensively scouted by Turkish professional team Ülkerspor which he joined and started starring for as a teenager.
In his four-year spell in Turkey, Zaza played a total of 73 games for his side and was able to win three titles; 2001 and 2002 Turkish President’s Cup, and the 2001 Turkish National Championship. During this time, the teenager averaged 6.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.
Zaza Pachulia was then drafted by the Orlando Magic in the second round of the 2003 NBA draft with the 42nd pick. The Charlotte Bobcats then selected him in the 2004 expansion draft before trading him to the Milwaukee Bucks. While with the Bucks, Pachulia played a key role from off the bench, averaging 6.2 points and 5.1 rebounds.
In the 2005 off-season, Pachulia signed a contract with the Atlanta Hawks to become the teams starting center. He played a total of 78 games that year and was very effective up the court with his offensive rebounds, ranking third in the NBA in offensive rebounds per game and fifth overall in total offensive rebounds. He endeared himself to Hawks fans with his aggressiveness, even more so after he clashed with future Hall of Famer and then Celtics star Kevin Garnett.
Pachulia played with the Hawks for 8 years before returning to Milwaukee. During that time, however, the Turkish citizenship holder played for Galatasaray of the Turkish Basketball League during the 2011 NBA lockout.
In 2015, the Bucks traded him to the Dallas Mavericks. In Dallas, Pachulia had his first All-Star appearance at the 2016 NBA All-Star Game. He was such a favorite that he barely missed out on being among the starting five. That same year, he set a career-high 22 double-double in a single season.
The following year, he signed on to the Golden State Warriors where he won his first NBA Championship. It was, however, along the way, during Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against San Antonio Spurs that he injured Kawhi Leonard, which led to him being ruled out for the season and to the Spurs spurning its huge lead in the game before subsequently getting swept in the series.
Another incident occurred in a regular season game against Oklahoma City Thunder when Zaza fell onto the knee of Russell Westbrook after a play. Replays showed that the big man might have been intentionally clumsy to which Westbrook stated that he believed Zaza wanted to injure him.
Zaza Pachulia’s Salary and Net Worth
Zaza Pachulia currently earns an annual salary of $3,477,600 with the Golden State Warriors. His net worth is said to be around $13 million and that is set to increase by about 100% in the coming years, thanks to the increasing popularity of the NBA around the world.
He is also a serious entrepreneur and has even gone as far as taking executive business classes at Harvard Business School, Georgia State, and Northwestern University.
Family; Wife and Kids
Zaza Pachulia is married to his wife Tika, with whom he has three children; two sons (Davit and Saba) and a daughter (Mariam). The family owns a home in Atlanta, Georgia, where they have lived since 2011.
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Height, Weight and Other Facts
Birth Name: Zaza Pachulia
Date of Birth: February 10, 1984
Place of Birth: Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
Height: 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Weight: 270 lb (122 kg)
Shoe Size: 17 US
Favorite Music: Hip-Hop (Jay-Z and 50 Cent)
Favorite Meal: Steak and Pasta