The beginning of the NBA postseason is typically a joyous time around the sport, but this year's festivities have been marked by some uncharacteristic sadness. On Tuesday night, Craig Sager Jr. announced his father, TNT reporter Craig Sager, had been diagnosed with leukemia. Sager, a fixture on broadcasts for decades and known around the culture for his colorful wardrobe, will miss the entire postseason while undergoing treatment.
For Sunday's opening broadcast of TNT's postseason coverage, the entire crew decided to pay tribute to their absent colleague. That included a special interview with Sager's greatest antagonist, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. For the on-court interview between the third and fourth quarters of Game 1 between the top-seeded Spurs and their in-state rival Dallas Mavericks, Craig Sager II took the microphone to speak to Popovich. Take a look (via The Point Forward):
Popovich and the elder Sager are well-known for their testy interviews, although it's telling that Pop dropped the act and wished Sager well in his recovery. There's always a warmth there, even when they're mocking each other.
As announced by Ernie Johnson during TNT's pregame coverage, the network originally wanted Sager to interview Pop before tip-off. However, Popovich requested that the interview take place during the game. The younger Sager, who walked on as a wide receiver for the University of Georgia football team, is a reporter in his own right for SCORE Atlanta.
He paid tribute to his father by raiding his closet for one of his trademark sportcoats and donning orange, the color of leukemia awareness. Sager Jr. even proved that it hadn't been worn by showing the tag to TNT's Jamie Maggio in an earlier in-game interview.
Shortly after the interview, Sager Jr. tweeted that Popovich had given him a special note for his father:
Popovich gave me a hand written letter to give my Dad tomorrow. The whole Spurs organization is filled with class and great people. Thanks— Craig Sager II (@CraigSagerJr) April 20, 2014
The interview was not the only Sager-centric moment of Sunday's coverage. TNT's pregame show started with studio crew Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal showing off Sager-inspired outfits. Check it out below:
Sager's treatment is only getting started, but this recent outpouring of support shows how beloved he is around the sports world. While best known for his clothes, Sager is a true professional with a useful sense of humor and confidence. He never lets his brash wardrobe overwhelm his sense of self. Here's hoping Sager gets back to the sidelines soon.
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