The Mercury News

Warriors honor VP Harris with special, framed jersey

- By Wes Goldberg wgoldberg@ bayareanew­sgroup.com

Before heading to Chase Center for shootaroun­d before the Warriors game against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, Steve Kerr spent his morning taking in the inaugurati­on.

As President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office in front of the Capitol building in Washington D.C., Kerr felt a sense of pride.

“It’s a great day. It’s one of the reasons we’re wearing our Oakland jerseys tonight,” said Kerr who, since becoming head coach of the Warriors in 2014, has not been afraid to speak out on political and social issues. “We’re taking great pride in the fact that Kamala Harris is from Oakland.”

The team takes so much pride, in fact, it sent a jersey to the new vice president.

Harris was given a “Oakland Forever” jersey. The Warriors honored the vice president in a video which features Stephen Curry signing and virtually gifting a framed jersey — with the number 49 and “Madame VP” on the back — for Harris to hang in her vice presidenti­al office.

“Madame Vice President, I’m not saying that you’ve got to put this up in your office at the White House, but it’d probably a good idea,” Curry said in the video. “Congratula­tions on blazing your own path. We’re all rooting and supporting you the whole way.”

Harris promised to put the framed jersey — which includes a plaque that reads: “For representi­ng the spirit of the Town” — in her vice presidenti­al office.

“President Biden has a big job on his hands,” Kerr said. “But the big one really is trying to settle the country down and settle a lot of this anger down and hopefully unify people.”

It’s not a coincidenc­e that the Warriors were wearing

their “Oakland Forever” jerseys on Inaugurati­on Day, but it might be a coincidenc­e that the two coaches most outspoken on things outside basketball share an arena.

Kerr, who played for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich from 1998 to 2001, often credits “Coach Pop” for giving him the courage to use his public platform to share his opinion on race relations, social issues and gun reform.

“I don’t think I ever would have felt comfortabl­e speaking out until Pop’s example,” Kerr said. “He gave me and a lot of people the courage to just speak when we felt we had something to say that might be helpful or important.”

On Wednesday, Popovich said he never set out to become an example for Kerr or others, but always felt it important to talk about social issues with his team in private.

“Somewhere along the line, I probably just said something in a more public setting during the last administra­tion,” he said.

“Without speaking about policy or that sort of thing, he’s a decent man,” Popovich said of Biden. “Really, genuinely cares about people. I think that’s huge.”

GAME TIME FOR WARRIORSJA­ZZ

ON SATURDAY PUSHED BACK >> The start of the Warriors’ game against the Jazz in Utah Saturday has been moved to 6 p.m., the team announced Wednesday. Tipoff had originally been set for 2 p.m.

Pushing back the start of the game will allow time for the Warriors and Jazz to process additional COVID-19 testing prior to tip-off, according to a team source, thereby reducing the risk of an infected player taking the court.

This serves as a precaution­ary step as 15 games across the NBA have already been postponed. So far, the

Warriors (Jan. 15 in Phoenix) and Jazz (Jan. 13 in Washington) have each had only one game postponed this season.

The broadcast will still be televised on NBCBA. It had initially been slated to air on NBA TV nationally, but the tip-off time change means the game will only air in local markets.

BASKETBALL NOTES:

• Justinian Jessup, Golden State’s No. 51 pick in November’s draft, is playing this season for the Hawks of the NBL. In his second game, he scored 24 points in an impressive, all-around performanc­e. Though the Warriors cannot call him over stateside until next season, they are carefully monitoring the sharp-shooter’s developmen­t.

“I keep tabs on his progress,” said Kerr, who gets updates periodical­ly from director of basketball operations Nick U’Ren. “He’s a prospect who is very interestin­g to us and we’re excited to have his (draft) rights. We’ll be following him pretty closely.”

• When asked if Andrew Wiggins, who had played the last few games despite being listed as questionab­le with a right knee injury, was dealing with any long-term health issues, Kerr tempered concerns.

“I think it’s just the normal bumps and bruises that players like Andrew who play 30plus minutes every night get,” he said.

• Eric Paschall, who played mostly at forward as a rookie last season, has thrived so far as a small-ball center off the bench after backup center Marquese Chriss went down with a long-term lower leg injury. Having scored in double-digits in nine of his 12 games this season, Paschall is the anchor of a second-unit that plays up-tempo, spaces the floor and has become among the best in the NBA.

“He decided to take that role, and he’s exploded with it,” Kerr said. “And I’m hoping he can expand that into an even bigger role. That’s the plan.”

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