The sports world is in mourning, as longtime, beloved NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager has passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was 65 years old.
Turner president David Levy released a statement on Thursday confirming the sad news:
“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. 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. 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.”
Sager was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in April 2014. In August of this year, Sager underwent a rare third bone marrow transplant in an effort to stave off the disease.
The previous March, he released a statement acknowledging the seriousness of his condition while vowing to fight:
“I have acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive type of cancer,” Sager said in that statement. “The typical prognosis is 3-6 months to live, but I would like to stress that is for a patient who is not receiving treatment. Fortunately, I am receiving the best treatment in the world and I remain fully confident I will win this battle.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement honoring Sager on Thursday afternoon:
“I — along with the entire NBA family — am deeply saddened by the passing of Craig Sager. 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. Our hearts go out to his wife, Stacy; his children, Kacy, Craig Jr., Krista, Riley and Ryan; and his friends and colleagues.”
Sager was scheduled to be on the sidelines during Team USA’s Olympic basketball games this past summer in Rio; unfortunately, due to his treatment, he was unable to fulfill his lifelong dream of helping broadcast the Games.
During the NBA Finals this past June, Sager Facetimed with Pittsburgh running back James Conner, who is a cancer survivor. Conner shared a screenshot of the chat they had prior to the game.
Sager was famous for his interactions with coaches on the sideline during in-game interviews; his relationship with San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was particularly prickly at times, although Popovich was also one of Sager’s biggest supporters. In March, the Spurs coach explained his affinity for Sager:
“He’s just been such a genuine person who really does love the NBA and loves the game, and it comes through and you know that. Even though he does what he does design and fashionwise, you know it’s part of the shtick. But his questions are always sensible, they’re always answerable, and he does it with fun. He does it with humor. I react to that very positively. So we have a good time together.”