"Time is simply how you live your life"
Cancer. The world alone tugs at your core. I don't get it, I don't know why it exists and I'm not going to pretend to know a damn thing about the anatomy of it. I just know it sucks, and seems to target a lot of very good people. Something there aren't enough of in this world.
Craig Sager was a good person. Everybody loved Craig Sager. He turned something nobody wanted to do or see --a sideline interview--into must watch television.
In an era where the NBA went from popular to global domination, everybody knew who Craig Sager was. He was the best at what he did, insightful and funny, charming but inquisitive, flamboyant but professional. He loved what he did and so did we.
Let's not kid ourselves, though. No matter how great this man was, he was known for one thing above all others: the suits!
Craig Sager's suits have their own exploratory FAQ page. Fan made. A fan made page for a sideline reporter. Just let that sink in.
Diagnosed in 2014 with acute myeloid leukemia, Sager valiantly fought an uphill battle for almost three years. In March of 2016, he was told he had three to six months. Just like every obstacle he's had along the way, whether it be getting a straight answer from Kevin Garnett in a postgame interview or undergoing not one or two but three bone marrow transplants, including two from his son, Craig Jr.
His third transplant came from an anonymous donor.
Junior took on the task of his father for a night and interviewed Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. Pop, a longtime friend of Sager's family, is a notoriously prickly interview. He didn't want to do sideline interviews (or interviews ever), but he loved doing them with his great friend.
Without the opportunity, he got the next best thing. And it was magical.
Over the years, Sager has become almost as iconic as the league's logo. TNT's NBA coverage has long been the greatest there is, with their amazing production team, hilarious studio show and incredible broadcast talent, headed by play-by-play callers Marv Albert and Kevin Harlan.
Among the endless reasons to tune in to watch the NBA on TNT, Sager's interviews were the cherry on top. That might have even been a suit of his, the 'cherry on top.' Don't put it past him!
Garnett was always one of Sager's best interviews. Two of the game's (world's*) best personalities colliding on national television left you chomping at the bit.
No better KG-Sager moment than that one, and who could forget Steve Nash using Sager's pocket square as a tissue in the 2008 All-Star Game.
Some of Sager's best moments can be viewed here. Unsurprisingly, the first player you will see is the Big Ticket. Reversing roles, he asks Sager what his suit game will entail that evening.
For 32 months he battled the cancer that was trying to take him away from us. In the meantime, he did what few anticipated: he returned.
Back in March, Craig Sager did the unthinkable. He was TNT's sideline reporter for the Bulls-Thunder game. He received a moving ovation from the Chicago crowd. I had serious chills and even more serious tears from my coach.
This man was, is and will always be integral to my basketball life. As a sports nerd, he offered people like me actual insight into the minds of players and coaches. And when they didn't budge, he would push them. All the while, he kept smiling, kept joking and players legitimately loved being interviewed by Sager.
"He was one of the rare reporters that the athlete was comfortable in being completely open with him."
- Kobe Bryant
Nobody likes having to answer the same monotonous questions over and over again. It's boring. No matter how many times you're asked, I think you're going to come out and play harder the next time.
But not with Sager. It was a true spectacle and like Kobe says, players were honored and excited to do it.
Just weeks after making it back to the game he loved, the heartbreaking short-term diagnosis was received. He was given six months to live, max. He made it nine.
That's what he did. He battled. He fought the biggest fight you can fight with your own self and despite all the odds, the torturous process, he stayed positive. He was bright, radiant and constantly affecting those around him whether it be on the hardwood or his hospital bed.
He just kept on fighting. And working. He continued to be TNT's go-to man despite all the hell he was going through. His returning interview with his longtime friend made your heart skip a beat.
Since the Sager news broke almost three years ago, #SagerStrong has dominated social media. At the forefront of the movement was Sager's colleague, best friend and cancer survivor himself Ernie Johnson, pictured below to the right of Sager and that Charles Barkley guy they work with.
Johnson, like Sager, is a face of NBA basketball. He's just as important to the game as anyone working in it. While the focus is rightfully on the player's and the game itself, every basketball fan knows that, like tuning in for Sager's interviews every Thursday, you found just as much joy watching EJ host the studio show to perfection.
After the passing of his father, Sager Jr. posted a heartfelt tweet with a simple message of his dad's.
Sager's daughter Kacy is also a brilliant basketball mind, falling right off the apple tree. She shared a string of family photos, showcasing the obvious: Craig Sager was a really great dad. Craig Jr. and Kacy represent the goodness and genuine heart that their father effortlessly displayed.
The news world today is honoring Sager, as am I. I tend to drift away from highly saturated topics in my aspiring climb as a journalist, but with Sager I felt compelled to write something. He meant that much to me.
As corny as that reads, growing up and being obsessed with the Dallas Mavericks and they played in, I just marveled at how good Sager was at his job. He was so damn funny. Sideline reporters aren't supposed to be dressed up like that, cracking wise, having the time of their life.
A lot of headlines today describe Sager as "colorful." That's a phrase often used. For Sager, it's a literal term. The man was literally colorful. On the inside, too. He was multi-dimensional, the best there is at his job and there will never be another like him.
RIP Craig Sager