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Spurs, Warriors give tribute to Craig Sager for opener

Scott Howard-Cooper

OAKLAND — The Warriors and Spurs paid tribute to Craig Sager in wardrobe and words Tuesday, using the season opener at Oracle Arena to celebrate the popular TNT sideline reporter battling leukemia and remembering Nate Thurmond, the Hall of Fame center and long-time member of the community-relations department who died from the disease in July.

Fans arrived to find a white T-shirt with a drawing of Sager, in splashy attire, of course, in blue and gold, on the back of every seat. Plus, Warriors officials wore another T-shirt, a mix of red, yellow and orange as part of a mock jacket, shirt and tie.

“It’s good to be honoring Craig Sager with our shirts and our fans,” said Steve Kerr, a Sager colleague at TNT before leaving to coach Golden State. “I think you’ll like my tie as well. This night is about opening the season, getting started, but also honoring Craig and raising money for leukemia research. You guys may connect the dots. Nate Thurmond with the Warriors passed away from leukemia, so this is a night for us where we’re thinking about Craig, we’re thinking about Nate and we’re trying to do our part to help.”

The tie was loud, in true Sager fashion.

“He’s somebody who’s endured more than I can even imagine,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “All the treatment he’s gone through and it seems to go up and down and up and down. He’s high and then he’s dejected because of what’s going on with his health. He’s been through it all and he still smiles, he still jokes, he’s still got a great sense of humor, you can still talk to him about anything. He’s just an iconic and a weird and wonderful guy all at the same time, and I mean that lovingly.”

The Warriors held a moment of silence for Thurmond when Team USA played China at Oracle as part of a pre-Olympic tour. Tuesday, the team played a video during a first-quarter timeout honoring the career and legacy of the popular community ambassador.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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