ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — This time around, Zaza Pachulia just wants the handshake. He’ll figure out the rest of the details after the gentlemen’s agreement is in place.
Trying to make a difference in his hometown of Tbilisi, Georgia, Pachulia is trying to purchase the court the Milwaukee Bucks are temporarily playing on while their newly designed floor is being resurfaced.
But the veteran center has been down this road before. Pachulia tried purchasing a floor from the Atlanta Hawks when the franchise went through a color scheme change. He got his hopes up at the time only to have the deal fall through.
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First reported by Grantland, Pachulia said he’s currently in negotiations with the Bradley Center Sports and Entertainment Corporation to find a price that works for both parties.
“Unfortunately the deal (with Atlanta) didn’t go through,” Pachulia said after a recent practice at the team’s training facility. “Listen, I did my best to work the deal, but I wasn’t able to get that court.
“But there’s another opportunity here. Hopefully this time I’ll get it, because it’s for a good cause.”
Pachulia plans to have the floor shipped to the Republic of Georgia and installed at Martve, the basketball academy where he learned the game. He saw the rough condition of the current court at the academy when he returned to help with a youth clinic this past summer and knew he had to try and do something.
“I think this will be very unique and something that has never happened before in Georgia,” Pachulia said. “So many superstars have played on this court. I’m sure the kids or whoever has the chance to practice on the court back in Georgia are going to be thrilled and so happy.”
Basketball is growing fast in Georgia, a country that was part of the Soviet Union until 1991. The national team has yet to qualify for the Olympics or the FIBA World Cup, but Pachulia is hoping this gesture can help kids want to play basketball.
“It will be a huge motivation,” Pachulia said. “I was a kid too, so I went through the same process and I had the same dream to be in the NBA, or just to watch it first of all. Those kids will have the opportunity to practice and maybe play games on an NBA court.”
The Bucks are currently playing on the floor Pachulia is trying to purchase, an emergency backup plan implemented when Milwaukee’s new Robert Indiana-inspired playing surface became too slippery.
Milwaukee hopes to have its new floor back in the coming weeks, but Pachulia is fine with the delay.
“As time goes and the older (the court) gets, the price goes down,” joked Pachulia, who wouldn’t reveal what the ballpark figure he is willing to pay. “I’m a hard negotiator. I have to use the skills I learned in all of those business classes I took over the summers.”