In an interview that aired during Tuesday's episode of HBO's "Real Sports," TNT announcer Craig Sager revealed that the acute myeloid leukemia he has battled for the last two years is no longer in remission.
In the interview with HBO correspondent Bernard Goldberg, the 64-year-old broadcaster confirmed that doctors informed him in February that he was no longer in remission. The veteran sideline reporter, who has become an iconic figure within the NBA world thanks in part to his garish wardrobe and his frequent sparring sessions with San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich (who's one of Sager's most ardent supporters, especially away from the camera), said he's now entering "uncharted waters" in his battle with leukemia, which began in April of 2014 and has included multiple courses of treatment, including chemotherapy.
"I've already had two stem cell transplants. Very rarely does somebody have a third," Sager told HBO. "So I have to maintain my strength, so I can go through this."
Further reports prior to Tuesday's airing specified Sager's condition further, and the details are not pleasant. Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated obtained a transcript of the interview in which Sager says doctors told him he likely has three to six months to live:
In Real Sports profile, Craig Sager says he's "fighting to the end" after doctors gave him "3-6 months" diagnosis pic.twitter.com/J725uNfbF9
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) March 22, 2016
On Wednesday, though, Turner Sports issued a statement on Sager's behalf that clarifies that three-to-six-month timetable:
"I’m grateful to HBO for telling my story and I’d like to thank everyone for their ongoing support. I have acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive type of cancer. The typical prognosis is 3-6 months to live, but I would like to stress that is for a patient who is not receiving treatment. Fortunately, I am receiving the best treatment in the world and I remain fully confident I will win this battle.
"Again, I would like to thank everyone for your generosity and encouragement. I sincerely appreciate it and it means so much to me and my family. I look forward to continuing my work on the sidelines for Turner Sports."
This, unfortunately, isn't the first setback Sager has suffered during his fight. Mere weeks after being cleared to resume television work in March of 2015, Sager's leukemia returned, forcing him to step away from his assignments during the 2015 NCAA tournament and "NBA on TNT" telecasts once more.
After several more months of treatment, including a transplant of bone marrow donated by his son, Craig II, Sager came back for the NBA's 2015-16 Media Day in September, returned to work on Opening Night a month later, and had his first televised post-treatment tete-a-tete with Pop in December. Sager has continued to make monthly trips to Houston for treatment throughout the season, and was healthy enough to resume his responsibilities at the NBA's annual All-Star Weekend in Toronto, but his status took a turn last month.
A Turner Sports spokesperson confirmed to Yahoo Sports on Monday that Sager plans to continue carrying out his NBA responsibilities and maintaining his presence on "NBA on TNT" broadcasts, and he's currently scheduled to work the sidelines for the March 29 matchup between the Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors, the March 31 game between the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets, and the April 7 meeting between the Bulls and Miami Heat. As Sager relates to Goldberg in the HBO interview, though, this remains a fluid situation.
"Still kicking, still fighting," he said. "I haven't won the battle. It's not over yet. But I haven't lost it, either. There have been some victories and some setbacks, but I still have to fight it. A lot of work to do."
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