Craig Sager returns to TNT action, receives warm welcome back

Ball Don't Lie

One of the most beloved figures in the NBA has returned to the sidelines. If his fashion choices are any evidence, then TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager hasn't missed a beat in his absence from broadcasts.

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Sager is back in action after almost 11 months away while receiving treatments for acute leukemia. His son and fellow broadcaster Craig Sager II announced early last week that Sager would return for March 5's game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls at the United Center.

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"Inside the NBA" welcomed Sager back to the broadcast with a pregame video that featured well wishes from Russell Westbrook, Gregg Popovich, Dwyane Wade, and Mark Cuban, plus a portion of a pregame interview between Sager and Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. Take a look:

The Bulls paid further tribute to Sager at the first TV timeout at the 5:56 mark of the first quarter. In addition to airing a short tribute on the United Center video board, mascot Benny the Bull handed Sager a custom Bulls-themed sportcoat to go with Sager's usual wardrobe of loud plaids and aggressive patterns. Sager also took the time to thank everyone who had reached out to him with support during his health struggle and recovery:

Sager's next big moment came during his between-quarters interview with OKC head coach Scott Brooks:

Brooks teased Sager about the Chicago colors at the between-quarters interview, but his initial choice of jacket leaned towards the Bulls, too:

If anything, fans may have been a little disappointed that Sager didn't don one of his more extreme outfits for his first game back. On the other hand, we should have plenty of opportunities to see him in more aggressive looks over the NCAA Tournament and NBA postseason over the next few months.

A few of the league's best players also welcomed Sager back on social media:

Of course, Sager is much more than the sum of his clothes — he has a reputation as one of the most professional and effective sideline reporters in sports. His recovery also allowed fans some insight into his life, both through updates from his son and greater information on his relationship with Popovich. We now know a little more about the person behind one of the league's outsized characters.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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