Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:
Before Hawks center Zaza Pachulia took the floor in Orlando on Tuesday night he knew the good vibes he once shared with Magic fans were over.
“My rookie year I was fans’ favorite here,” Pachulia said before Game 5 of the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series. “Now I am the most hated.”
The relationship soured after Pachulia head-butted Magic guard Jason Richardson during Game 3 in Atlanta on Friday. Richardson retaliated by smacking Pachulia in the face, and the NBA suspended both players for Game 4 on Sunday in Atlanta.
Magic fans greeted Pachulia with boos when he checked into the game and also when he touched the ball early. The Magic selected Pachulia in the second round of the 2003 draft, and he was on the cover of the team’s in-house magazine in April 2004.