DeRozan: I was always a fan of the Kobes at a different level. He’s my all-time favorite player. Me, growing up being a Laker fan and seeing the transition of his shoes, I just remember when [the 5s] dropped. I wore the 5s [my rookie year]. When the 4 and 5 dropped, with those being low-tops, especially the 5s, they were such a light shoe. I remember a lot of people used to complain about them, ‘Oh, you’re going to hurt your ankle. They’re too light.’
“You always try to figure out different ways you can strike change and be accounted for,” Hill said. “When I first got to the NBA, Coach Pop [Gregg Popovich] told me one thing that always stuck with me, is how do you put your whole fingerprints on the world and leave your mark. Sometimes you have to stand up for what’s right, and sometimes that may be ruffling feathers and may be frowned upon by everyone else, but at the end of the day in your heart, knowing you’re on the right side of history and knowing that you did the right thing, good or bad, you have to live with that.”
Pachulia, who played 16 seasons in the NBA and became a consultant for the Warriors after his playing days, added he understood why so many people talked about it because it affected a lot of things. However, he also threw a subtle jab at the media for blowing up the entire incident, which made his situation worse. “If you look at the Eastern and Western Conference, the media had nothing to talk about. Cleveland was sweeping everybody in the first three rounds, we were sweeping everybody as well. We ended that NBA Playoffs, 16-1,” Zaza Pachulia added. “So I guess that was something the media found and said ‘OK, let’s talk about this, let’s make it more interesting, let’s sell the news.’ We all know what kind of world we’re living in. It’s about selling information.”
“Another crazy thing, another small but important detail. Two minutes before that incident happened to Kawhi Leonard on my foot. Two minutes before, Kawhi was going to check into the game, he stepped on his own teammate’s foot and he rolled his ankle. Two minutes prior to that. Nobody is talking about it, nobody. I mean, that’s crazy. When you sprain the ankle, it happened to me so many times in my career, it takes time until you get your ankle back in good shape, with strengthening and making sure you don’t roll the ankle that easily. Look what happened to Giannis [Antetokounmpo] in this year’s playoffs. He rolled his ankle, and the next game, he rolled it again. Out of nowhere. The ankle is already weak, it’s a possibility to sprain it again.”
“Keldon is a sponge,” Castillo said. “He is very curious and asks a lot of questions. He is focused on improving all aspects of his game to include his mental game.” With Johnson’s balanced approach to both the physical and mental side of his game, next season could be a special one for him and the Spurs. “It’s fun to work with a high performer who is just looking to be better and build on his already strong cognitive abilities,” said Castillo.