Craig Sager, a longtime NBA reporter for Turner Sports, has died following a battle with leukemia. He was 65.
Sager was a favorite among fans, coaches and players, easily recognizable for his flashy and sometimes silly courtside outfits. But the man knew his basketball, and Sager had an infectious spirit.
“Craig Sager was a beloved member of the Turner family for more than three decades and he has been a true inspiration to all of us,” Turner president David Levy said on Thursday. “There will never be another Craig Sager. His incredible talent, tireless work ethic and commitment to his craft took him all over the world covering sports.
“While he will be remembered fondly for his colorful attire and the TNT sideline interviews he conducted with NBA coaches and players, it’s the determination, grace and will to live he displayed during his battle with cancer that will be his lasting impact,” the executive continued. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Craig’s wife, Stacy, and the entire Sager family during this difficult time. We will forever be Sager Strong.”
Here’s what son Craig Sager, Jr. — who’s followed in dad’s footsteps, professionally — posted on Twitter this afternoon:
— Craig Sager II (@CraigSagerJr) December 15, 2016
In addition to Craig Jr., Sager is survived by four children and his wife, Stacy.
This summer, Sager was the recipient of the ESPY Award for perseverance, an honor named for late college basketball coach Jim Valvano. Watch Sager’s terrific speech above.
In a wonderful showing of respect and admiration, ESPN and ABC also called on the TNT employee to work his first-ever NBA Finals game this June.
The Illinois native lived to see his beloved Chicago Cubs — a team he placed a $1,000 bet on each of the last 35 seasons — win the World Series this fall. The wager was evidence of Sager’s never-ending optimism; the Cubs hadn’t previously won it all in 108 years. What a feeling that must have been for the man who’d migrated to roundball but never wavered on his first love.
Sager was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame just this Tuesday. Levy accepted on his behalf.