Vote for Zaza

Georgian society has united to get basketball player Zaza Pachulia playing in the NBA All-Star Game. During an entire month social networks have been filled with #NBAVOTE Zaza Pachulia posts. Not only are ordinary citizens in on the craze, even the President of Georgia, ministers, journalists, public figures and foreign embassies have joined the action. As a result, now Pachulia has a real chance to play among the true greats of basketball.

The NBA All-Star Game is an exhibition game hosted annually by the National Basketball Association (NBA), matching the league’s star players from the Eastern Conference against their counterparts from the West. The next game will take place in Toronto on February 14, 2016. The starting lineup for each squad is selected by a fan ballot, while the reserves are chosen by a vote among the head coaches. Zaza Pachulia is one of the best players in Georgian basketball history, having played in different NBA teams since 2003 and currently playing as a Center Forward for the Dallas Mavericks.

According to the All-Star Game’s fan ballot rules, everyone can vote for his or her favorite player with hashtag #NBAVOTE and the name of the chosen player on social networks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or on the official website of the NBA. The Top 5 players will be able to join the All-Star Game.

Voting was weak at the beginning the fan ballot on December 11, 2014, with the first results of voting showing that Pachulia was not even in the top 15. However, towards the end of the month Pachulia’s name became more and more visible in social networks. According to the second updates of the voting on January 7, 2015, Pachulia reached 8th place in the list of Western Conference with 194,421 votes against 1,262,118 votes for international basketball stars Kobe Bryant and 616,096 for Kevin Durant who are in first and second places respectively.

Pachulia’s name in the Top 10 has given a big boost to fan activity and increased hope that the Georgian will be able to be one of the All-Star Game players.

As Facebook is the most popular social network in Georgia, thousands of fans soon began to actively write the hashtag there, not only every day, but also in each post, whether or not the post concerns basketball or Pachulia.

President of Georgia Giorgi Margvelashvili uploaded a picture of Pachulia and wrote the hashtag on his official Facebook page on January 9. The official Facebook page of the US Embassy in Tbilisi also did the same. “Zaza-mania continues! Let’s support Zaza and send him to the All-Star game,” the post declared.

Recently, the Dallas Mavericks’ legend and one of the greatest power forwards in basketball history, Dirk Nowitzki, commented his teammate’s success and why he is only 13th in All-Star Game’s list against Pachulia’s 8th place. “He told every Georgian there to get online every day and vote for him,” Nowitzki told reporters via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He deserves it. I am happy for him, and he has been incredible not only defensively and rebounding-wise, but offensively- he is really skilled. He knows how to pass. He does a lot of great things and we’re happy to have him.”

Pachulia was touched by the incredible support of his people. “I want to thank everyone for their support! Each of your posts makes a difference and encourages me on,” noted Pachulia on his Facebook page. “Thanks everyone who gave me even one vote and a chance to make my dream true – to play for my team and my country in an All-Star Game.”

The lastest results of the voting will be available at the end of the week but fans all around the world still have a chance to vote until 9 am (Georgian time), January 19. The top five players to gain the maximum number of votes will be named on January 21.

Eka Karsaulidze

14 January 2016 19:30