Tragic news broke late Thursday afternoon that NBA sideline reporter Craig Sager passed away after a long and emotional battle with cancer. Sager’s fight with cancer has been recorded and admired for some time now whether it be through major networks chronicling his procedures or him speaking in front of the entire country about his resilience and optimism. While still very raw, there couldn’t be enough strong words said about the inspiring figure himself.
“He’s the rare icon that everybody agreed was awesome,” said Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver on CBS Sports Radio’s Doug Gottlieb show. “People have respected him and you just go right across the spectrum. Players, coaches, fans, the very most cynical people in the NBA, the people who are least likely to laugh at themselves would always crack up when Craig Sager was in the building and doing his thing.”
Sager’s health had been both up and down the last couple years as he would continuously remark that he wasn’t sure of his future but knew his love for the game could never be taken from him. Players felt honored just to be interviewed by Sager and even the most quiet coaches considered themselves lucky to be asked questions by the broadcasting legend.
“The guy was a really, really hard worker and I think that really showed these last couple years. I mean he had some just awful assignments,” Golliver continued sympathetically. “Could you imagine getting out of the hotel room and basically defying doctor’s orders at the time so you could report sideline at a game? I mean, his passion for basketball was unbelievable. His heart, his will, all of that stuff was really well documented these last couple of years. It’s just terribly sad and you feel for his family.”