Longtime Turner Sports broadcaster Craig Sager has died at the age of 65, the network confirmed in a statement.
“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 in a statement.
“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.
Known for his colorful and distinctive suits during his more than 40-year career, the legendary sideline reporter battled acute myeloid leukemia since he was first diagnosed in 2014.
Sager was admitted back into the hospital in late November 2016.
After his initial diagnosis, Sager, who worked for Turner for more than 30 years, missed the 2014 and 2015 NBA playoffs and part of the 2014-15 regular season, as well as the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Born June 29, 1951, in Illinois, Sager graduated from Northwestern University in 1973 with a degree in speech and with a run as the school mascot, Willie the Wildcat.
He first made his name at age 22, when he interviewed Hank Aaron on his way to home plate, moments after Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s record.
During the 2014 NBA playoffs, his son Craig Sager Jr. did a sideline interview with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose interviews with Sager had become must-watch television.
“You did a great job,”
Popovich said to the younger Sager,
“but I’d rather have your dad standing here.
Craig, we miss you, you’ve been an important part of all of this for a long time doing a great job.
We want your fanny back on the court, and I promise I’ll be nice.”
Popovich didn’t take questions from reporters prior to Thursday night’s game in Phoenix.
Instead, he walked out of the visiting locker room and, with a somber tone, spoke only of Sager for close to two minutes.
“A day like this, basketball has to take a back seat, as we all think about somebody who was very unique, very special,”
“Whether you really knew Craig or not, you got the feeling that he was a very special person in a lot of different ways, and right now I just feel for his family.”
In a statement, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said teams will observe a moment of silence in Sager’s memory.
“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 in the middle of the scrum as the world tried to congratulate Aaron.
When asked years later what Sager thought would have happened if he tried to interview Aaron the same way today, he told Yahoo! Sports,
“I’d be shot.”
He later worked for CNN, handling the network’s first live remote report from the 1980 MLB playoffs.
“CNN Sports Tonight”
“College Football Scoreboard”
in the 1980s.
Although Sager covered a wide variety of events, including college football, the NFL, the World Series, the Goodwill Games, the Pan Am Games, World Cup soccer, golf, tennis and the Winter and Summer Olympics, his home was the NBA.