Craig Sager, the sideline sports reporter known for his colorful suits and friendly demeanor made him a beloved figure among NBA players, has died at the age of 65 after a battle with leukemia.
Sager, a Northwestern University graduate who spent time serving as Willie the Wildcat, the Big Ten school’s mascot, was recently inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Best known for his work on TNT and TBS, he was one of the few people on the sidelines that players and coaches seemed to genuinely enjoy talking to as they made their way to the locker room after a grueling quarter or game. His conversations never felt rushed, and he always went into every conversation both as a journalist but also as a fan of the game.
Besides his work and his suits, Sager is legendary for stories like the time he drank 26 Bud Lights in 18 holes and did not miss a putt, and he was so loved by his colleagues like Charles Barkley that they’d go well out of their way to visit their friend in the hospital after Sager was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2014. Earlier this year, Sager was awarded Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 2016 ESPYs for battling cancer by Vice-President Joe Biden. In a powerful and moving speech, saying that, “Time is something that cannot be bought, it cannot be wagered with God, and it is not in endless supply,” he added: “Time is simply how you live your life.”
Sager, a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan who was originally from Batavia, Illinois, cashed in a $1,000 bet he made – one that he’s been making every year since 1981 – on his beloved team to win a World Series for the first time since 1908, saying, “Ya gotta think positive.”
In the end, Sager, one of basketball’s most colorful personalities, will be remembered for just that. A fighter to the end, his presence will forever be missed on NBA sidelines.