Last Thursday night, breaking news shocked the sports world that another legend had passed away. Only this legend never wore a professional uniform on the field, but off of it, and revolutionized the way we look at sports reporting.
Craig Sager died at the age of 65. For the past few years, Sager had been battling multiple bouts with acute myeloid leukemia which sidelined him from the entire 2014 NBA playoffs and resurfaced in late March of this year.
Sager’s spirit and attitude during this fight was revered by the entire sports community. While going through this disease, he would receive multiple bone marrow transplants and be treated multiple times per day. This, however, didn’t stop him from doing his job and appreciating everything life had to offer him and ultimately to us, the fans who for over 40 years, were privileged to witness one of the greatest broadcasters and people of all time.
Since 1974, Sager has been the man with the best view at any sporting event, right on the sideline. As a reporter, he witnessed many remarkable moments and was always the first person to get the interview right after those historical times. Most notably, when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run on April 8, 1974, Sager was the first person to greet him at home plate and sought the first interview immediately after.
Moments like these are what defined Sager, a tireless worker who was willing to go into the fray in order to get a story. His persistence, his remarkable attitude and his revolutionary way of dressing as a reporter are what spearheaded his 40-plus year career in broadcast journalism.
With a career made out of working the multiple Olympic Games, Baseball, Football, College Football, Soccer and even Skiing, Sager was most known for his work in the NBA as the first sideline reporter personality.
His work for Turner Sports and its NBA coverage made it the go-to network for every key NBA matchup. His eccentric dressing on the sideline, with suits of all shapes, sizes and colors, mixed perfectly well with his ability to conduct the best, most informative and entertaining interviews the NBA has ever seen. Sager’s ability to get a variety of answers out of the coaches and players who would interview before, during and after games, are stuff of legends. For many players and coaches, it was an honor to be interviewed by Sager at any point because it meant that you were playing well or in the words of Shaquille O’Neal “doing work”. No matter how they felt about the way he dressed and poked fun at it, everyone around the league had the utmost respect for him because they knew that at his job, he was the absolute best and he never took it to heart.
The relationships he created and kept as well as the many people around the world that he inspired are a testament to how great of a human he was. To prove it, after his untimely death, every pre- and post-game show across all sports donned multi-colored suits and shirts that looked like multi-colored suits in his honor, with each paying massive amounts of respect to someone they all considered a legend. To be able to be acknowledged in that fashion, across all platforms displays an impact that we all hope to come close to making one day.
Craig Sager was truly one-of-a-kind and there will never be another like him.
What are some of your best memories of Craig Sager? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.