Craig Sager will not cover Olympics due to leukemia treatment

Fourth-Place Medal
Craig Sager accepts the Jimmy V Award for Perserverance during the 2016 ESPYS. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Craig Sager accepts the Jimmy V Award for Perserverance during the 2016 ESPYS. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Turner Sports reporter Craig Sager has been a presence on more TV networks than usual this year as he continues to fight leukemia. In addition to his return to TNT for his usual NBA coverage, Sager covered his first-ever NBA Finals game on a one-day loan to ABC in June and appeared at the ESPYs this month to accept the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. He was also set to continue his relationship with NBC at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next month, continuing a run as sideline reporter for men’s and women’s basketball that began at the Sydney games in 2000.

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NBC announced Thursday that Sager will no longer serve that role due to a setback in his recovery. Here is the full text of their short news release:

Craig Sager has returned to MD Anderson to continue his fight against leukemia. He is preparing for a third bone marrow transplant which will prevent him from covering the Olympics in Rio. We wish him the best in his continued recovery.

This news is very sad but not necessarily surprising to anyone who has followed Sager’s fight against leukemia since he revealed his diagnosis in April 2014. He has taken several extended leaves from work as his condition both improved and worsened. Frankly, it comes as something of a surprise that he even intended to go to Brazil at all given the unfamiliarity of the country’s hospitals and its distance from home.

Yet Sager clearly values his place on the sidelines. He has said that continuing to work keeps him motivated through intense treatment and allows him to live his best life when he doesn’t know how much time he has left. Many of us would not have had the resolve to travel to Rio in such condition, but Sager wanted to work because that’s who he is.

His presence will certainly be missed during USA Basketball telecasts. Here’s hoping he finds a way back to Turner broadcasts for the MLB playoffs and NBA season.

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

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