Craig Sager is beloved for his bright suits, colorful courtside interviews and deep NBA knowledge. But as it turns out, we also have him to thank for Dennis Rodman still being alive.
In an in-depth interview with Sports Illustrated released Wednesday,the “NBA on TNT” reporter looked back on his illustrious career and recalled how he talked the former Chicago Bulls out of killing himself.
While he was playing for the Detroit Pistons in 1993, Rodman went AWOL and planned to commit suicide — until Sager tracked him down on the second floor of a Detroit strip club called the Landing Strip, Sager recalled.
“He had the gun. He was going to do it. I told him how stupid that would be.”
Fortunately, Rodman survived and went on to entertain fans both on and off the court for years. Future adventures included dating Madonna, wearing a wedding dress to promote his 1996 autobiography “Bad as I Wanna Be,” marrying Carmen Electra, becoming a part-time wrestler, appearing on “Celebrity Mole” and — most daringly — befriending North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and traveling to the Communist country in 2013.
Oh, and he is also a five-time NBA champion and two-time NBA All-Star.
Sager, on the other hand, has had a far more balanced and illustrious career since becoming a sports reporter in 1972. He joined Turner Sports in 1981 and is currently in his 17th season as sideline reporter for TNT’s exclusive Thursday night NBA doubleheader coverage.
Now 64, Sager was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and underwent transplants of bone marrow and stem cells received from his son. Sager announced in March that, after being in remission, the leukemia had returned and that “uncharted waters” lie ahead of him.
Sager still lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, but he spends most of his time at the Marriott Medical Center in Houston, Texas, where he is in the midst of a clinical trial. He recently told HBO’s “Real Sports” that he had been given three-to-six months to live. But that was the prognosis for a patient without treatment, according to Sports Illustrated, and he is receiving the best care available.
“A patient who battles this past a year is amazing,” his doctor, Naveen Pemmaraju, says in the Sports Illustrated story. “What he’s done is almost miraculous.”