OAKLAND -- Growing up in Southern California, Steve Kerr became a Dodgers fan. Still is, and makes no excuses for it, even as gainful employment has dropped him in the heart of Giants/A's country.
So, naturally, the Warriors coach knows of Willie McCovey, the Giants Hall of Famer who died Wednesday at age 80.
"For me, Willie McCovey represents a major figure from my childhood," Kerr said prior to tipoff against the Pelicans at Oracle Arena. "Hearing (legendary Dodgers broadcaster) Vin Scully talk about Willie McCovey and the Dodger-Giant rivalry."
From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, no hitter in baseball was more feared than McCovey, a strapping left-handed power hitter. In a time when pitchers routinely challenged even the best of hitters, McCovey exceeded 100 walks three times in a season.
Largely an after-effect of more than a dozen knee surgeries, McCovey spent the better part of the last decade in a wheelchair. He endured many years of health problems, including multiple infections.
Kerr, 53, had heard the news of McCovey's only minutes earlier.
"Obviously, I'm well aware of how beloved Willie was here in the Bay Area and in the Giants family," he said. "We extend our condolences to Willie's family and to the Giants family. Everybody here with the Warriors is thinking about them tonight."