After the Dallas Mavericks’ shootaround Friday morning at the Bradley Center, the media wanted to talk to Zaza Pachulia and get his thoughts about returning to Milwaukee to play the Bucks.
But they mostly wanted to get Pachulia’s thoughts on having nearly twice as many All-Star votes as teammate Dirk Nowitzki.
In the second round of world-wide votes for next month’s All-Star game, Pachulia is eighth in the Western Conference All-Star voting with 194,421 votes, while Nowitzki is 13th with 99,681 votes.
"It’s just funny,’’ Pachulia said. "Of course there are a lot of American votes there -- or Mavs – or maybe from my previous teams.
"But I have to give credit to my Georgians. Georgian people really took it to the next level.’’
Nowitzki is a 13-time All-Star, while Pachulia admits he’s never come close to playing in the NBA’s midseason classic.
The top three frontcourt players with the most votes will start in the All-Star game. Currently, the top three out West are Kobe Bryant (1,262,118), Kevin Durant (616,096) and Draymond Green (332,223)
Thus, Pachulia has some catching up to do if he hopes to be in the starting lineup when the All-Star game tips off on Feb. 14 from Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.
Pachulia said he knows the key to accumulating more votes, and he let Nowitzki in on his secret.
"I told him Georgians is so much more active than the Germans,’’ Pachulia said. "We were joking around, but I don’t think he cares that much.
"We joke a lot, but it’s a great feeling just to have my name up there. It’s amazing, there are so many great, great players in front of you or below you.’’
Pachulia is enjoying a breakout season. The 13-year veteran is averaging 10.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game and is tied for seventh in the NBA with 18 double-doubles.
"There’s really no area where he hasn’t been valuable,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "He’s been terrific on the floor, he’s played a really important all-around game for us, his scoring and rebounding has been very consistent, he’s a very good passer.
"In the locker room, you’re not going to fine a better team guy.”
As for the early voting, Carlisle said: "Well, they just have the computers rolling in Georgia.’’
Pachulia played for the Bucks during the 2004-’05 season and again from 2013 until they traded him to the Mavericks last summer for a second-round draft pick. It’s turned out to be one of the steals of the off-season – somewhat akin to the Mavericks acquiring Nowitzki in a 1998 draft-day trade.
"He’s a special guy, he’s embraced our culture, we’ve embraced him,’’ Carlisle said of Pachulia. "It’s been a very good situation so far.’’
Pachulia and Nowitzki have a great professional and personal relationship. The former also now knows he has a love affair with the fans.
"The love and the respect you get from the fans are priceless,’’ Pachulia said. "It doesn’t come in a day or two.
"It’s a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of doing the right things on and off the court. I can’t be more humble, and I appreciate all the fans worldwide for what they do.’’
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com