Zaza Pachulia is many things. Handsome cosmopolitan Eastern European fashion plate, Dallas Mavericks‘ reliable 10 points/10 rebounds man (10.5/10.8 this season), and restaurant entrepreneur, Pachulia was also just thisclose to being an NBA All-Star. Not just an All-Star, actually — but an All-Star starter. He narrowly edged the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green in fan voting for the 2016 NBA All-Star game, only to be topped by the San Antonio Spurs’ wunderkind Kawhi Leonard.
How did Pachulia manage so many votes? His native Georgians were active with the ballots. (Pachulia is from the former Soviet bloc.) And he has fans like Wyclef Jean, too. With NBA All-Star fan voting as much an expression of affection as impact, Pachulia engenders as much affection as maybe anybody in the league. Finally it was influential teen Vine star Hayes Grier — with 350 million loops, 4.3 million Vine followers and 3.2 million Twitter followers — who really pushed Zaza to the precipice. He got lassoed into the Zaza fan club by young Georgian singer Bera.
— Hayes Grier (@HayesGrier) January 15, 2016
A photo posted by Zaza Pachulia (@zazapachulia) on