NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager lost a hard-fought battle with leukemia on Thursday. He was 65.
During Sager’s years as TNT’s sideline reporter, he interviewed countless players and coaches, but none quite as memorable as with San Antonio Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich.
Mostly they followed a familiar script: Sager, dressed to the nines, would try to ask Popovich one question or another about his team’s performance during the game. Popovich, in response, would give Sager a quizzical look and rarely answer the questions in more than a word or two — if at all.
But last year, during the middle of Sager’s battle with cancer, his cancer was in remission and so he returned to NBA action in early December. As it turned out, Sager’s first game back was a nationally televised Western Conference match-up between the Grizzlies and the Spurs.
During the sideline interview midway through the game, Popovich was in uncharacteristically enthusiastic spirits, smiling and laughing and even giving Sager a hug on live TV.
“I gotta honestly tell you that this is the first time I’ve enjoyed doing this ridiculous interview we’re required to do, and it’s because you’re here and you’re back with us. Welcome back, baby,” Popovich said. “Now ask me some inane questions!”
The whole video is great. Check it out below:
It was a notable difference from Popovich’s usual curmudgeonly rapport with Sager:
Sager will be missed dearly on the NBA sidelines. Among the countless other things he thrived at, no one took on Popovich like him.
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