Gregg Popovich repeatedly checked in on Craig Sager's health during the playoffs

Gregg Popovich repeatedly checked in on Craig Sager's health during the playoffs

Famed Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager’s leukemia is in full remission, which is why doctors have given him the go-ahead to return to his role as TNT’s lead in-game reporter this February. The popular Sager missed the 2014 NBA playoffs and he’ll miss half of this season along the way, and it’s more than fair to say Sager is universally missed by players, coaches, his co-workers, and especially the scores of fans that have been following him on-air for decades.

During last year’s postseason, you’ll recall, San Antonio Spurs coach was interviewed mid-game by Sager’s son Craig Jr., a son that has been faithfully documenting his father’s return to health for those of us desperate for information about the NBA mainstay.

Popovich used the platform to send the sort of message that we all wanted to send Sager’s way:

The San Antonio Spurs coach and eventual 2014 NBA champion didn’t just stop there, however, as Craig Sager Jr. relayed in a fantastic feature by’s Shaun Powell recently:

But Popovich just ... wouldn't ... leave ... the Sagers ... alone.

"He called me four or five times in the next month to check on me and my dad," said Junior, and remember, Pop and the Spurs were in the heat of the playoff run. Pop's timing was downright surreal, too.

"He called the day of my sister Krista's graduation from the University of Georgia, because my dad couldn't make it," said Junior. "And this was before a game against Portland."

About a week later, Junior was involved in a hit and run accident on the Georgia 400 highway that gave his car a serious thrashing (he was OK). As he stood on the side of the road, waiting for help, his cell rang. Popovich. The Spurs in the midst of playing the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.

"Everything OK?" asked Pop.

"Well, come to think of it ..." replied Junior.

Popovich kept calling and writing the father, who savored it all. Sager won't reveal much of what Pop said to him, choosing to keep such matters private, except to say the calls and letters "were beyond belief." Sager did allow that Pop mentioned how "we're a team." Meaning, Pop and Sager. Cranky coach (but a softie underneath) and sideline reporter. Imagine that.

If you follow the NBA even slightly, you’re aware that Gregg Popovich is at the very top of the list when it comes to tossing out an extra-prickly in-game interview, a nationally-televised staple that the NBA introduced in 2007-08 much to just about every coach’s chagrin. Though he is more often smart-alecky than dour, Popovich has had his battles with Sager in the past, but the 6-4 sideline reporter has been able to think on his feet and go toe to toe with the NBA’s longest-tenured coach.

At the risk of being trite, I think I speak for many when I point out that we should be incredibly thankful that we have someone like Gregg Popovich in this league, even at his most ornery.

And we’re all thankful that we’re only a few months away from Craig Sager, alligator-skinned wingtips clicking along the way, returning to where he belongs.

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Kelly Dwyer

is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!