As news spread that Craig Sager had lost his battle with leukemia at age 65, the sports world united to pay tribute to Turner’s beloved NBA reporter.
A colorful presence courtside in his rainbow bright suits and clashing ties for many years, Sager shared his infectious spirit and lust for life with everyone he encountered — whether in person or through their TV screens.
Even the grumpiest man in sports — San Antonio Spurs coach Greg Popovich — couldn’t help but crack a smile when Sager bugged him with “inane questions” during halftime breaks.
“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 told Sager when he returned to the sidelines following cancer treatments last December, Sports Illustrated recalled.
From the biggest names in sports to on-air talent at competing networks ESPN and Fox Sports, an outpouring of heartfelt tributes flooded social media on Thursday.
“The NBA family lost a legend, who changed the way sideline reporters did their job. RIP Craig Sager,” Magic Johnson tweeted.
“Craig Sager died as he lived–with courage, passion, perseverance. Fearless and hopeful, a real hero,” said vice president Joe Biden, who presented Sager with the Jimmy V Perseverance award at the 2016 ESPYs in July.
“RIP Mr Craig Sager. Gone but never forgotten,” rapper Lil Wayne wrote.
A lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, Sager finally got to see his team end its 108-year World Series drought in October — and cash in on a bet he’d been placing on them since 1981.
“We send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Craig Sager. #SagerStrong,” the team tweeted after his death.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement about the longtime Turner talent: “I — along with the entire NBA family — am deeply saddened by the passing of Craig Sager,” Silver said.
“Craig was as vital to the NBA as the players and coaches. A true original and an essential voice on Turner Sports’ NBA coverage for 26 seasons, Craig chronicled some of the most memorable moments in league history and was a ubiquitous presence with his splashy suits and equally colorful personality. Craig earned widespread respect for his insightful reporting and inspired so many most recently with his courage,” he continued. “Our hearts go out to his wife, Stacy; his children, Kacy, Craig Jr., Krista, Riley and Ryan; and his friends and colleagues.”
NBA teams will be observing a moment of silence in Sager’s memory.
See some of the many tweets in his memory below.
I will always remember when Craig Sager took me to lunch at his sports bar Jocks & Jills in Atlanta. We had a great time!
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) December 15, 2016
The NBA family lost a legend, who changed the way sideline reporters did their job. RIP Craig Sager.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) December 15, 2016
“Time is simply how you live your life.” – Craig Sager. So grateful for the time you shared with all of us. RIP my friend #sagerstrong
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) December 15, 2016
Craig Sager died as he lived—with courage, passion, perseverance. Fearless and hopeful, a real hero. pic.twitter.com/lPzJUPevTE
— VP Biden (Archived) (@VP44) December 15, 2016
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) December 15, 2016
RIP Craig Sager.. You will be remembered forever..
— 🏁 Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) December 15, 2016
RIP Mr Craig Sager. Gone but never forgotten
— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) December 15, 2016
The sports community lost a great one today. Rest In Peace Craig Sager. #RIPSager
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) December 15, 2016
— Craig Sager II (@CraigSagerJr) December 15, 2016
RIP Craig Sager!!! #Legend
— AqibTalib21 (@AqibTalib21) December 15, 2016
— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) December 15, 2016
Sorry to hear about the passing of Craig Sager. You will be missed! #SagerStrong
— Justin Forsett (@JForsett) December 15, 2016
— Jason Kidd (@RealJasonKidd) December 15, 2016
Craig Sager thanks for saving my life when I was in dire need of help in Detroit back in 1993. Condolences to your family. RIP my friend.
— Dennis Rodman (@dennisrodman) December 15, 2016
Rest In Peace to Craig Sager. My condolences go out to his family and friends. We lost a great… https://t.co/eOits3OfvV
— Allen Iverson (@alleniverson) December 15, 2016
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) December 15, 2016
Craig Sager will be missed. A beautiful spirit. His light will to continue to shine.
— Molly Qerim (@MollyQerim) December 15, 2016
Craig Sager said in March while he hadn't won his battle with cancer, he had not lost it yet, either. Craig, you didn't lose. You won.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) December 15, 2016
"There will never be another Craig Sager."
More on the legendary life of the one broadcaster everyone loved: https://t.co/Qtc0Eptz29
— ESPN (@espn) December 15, 2016
The Hustle: Craig Sager, 22, working for $95 a week for a radio station, was the closest to Hank Aaron after he hit #715. pic.twitter.com/gy0OwjuBYt
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) December 15, 2016
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement regarding the passing of Craig Sager pic.twitter.com/vvayZfy7Re
— NBA (@NBA) December 15, 2016
"Craig Sager, a low-volume pro in the loud clothes."
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 15, 2016
I’ll never forget this moment. Game 6 of the NBA Finals when Craig Sager was part of our ABC/ESPN broadcast team. Sitting there next to Craig and watching his reaction when the entire building in Cleveland gave him a standing ovation still gives me chills. What a wonderful example he was for sportscasters everywhere, and most importantly, Craig was a wonderful example of a how to be a truly gracious, kind professional in this dog-eat-dog world. Sending love and prayers to @craigsagerjr and his entire family. ????????