Photo from Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE, via Getty Images
It is a Sad Day in the Sportsworld as NBA Sideline Reporter Craig Sager dies at the age of 65.
The cause of death was leukemia, according to a spokesman for Turner Sports. After receiving the diagnosis in 2014, Sager continued to work and received blood transfusions to be strong enough to travel to some games, and returned to a hospital after others.
He last appeared in a game broadcast in June and canceled plans to work for NBC at the Summer Olympics in Brazil in August to continue treatment.
Sager underwent three bone marrow transplants, two from his older son, Craig II.
In June of this year, Sager was asked to be a sideline reporter at Game 6 of the N.B.A. finals on ABC, He scheduled the assignment — his first during a finals — between an eight-day course of chemotherapy at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and a Father’s Day outing in Florida.
After the Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in Game 6, Sager interviewed LeBron James. After answering several questions, Lebron James reversed roles with Craig Sager and asked: “How in the hell did you go 30-plus years without getting a finals game? That don’t make no sense.”
Craig Sager was born on June 29, 1951, in Batavia, Ill. His father, Al, was an advertising and public-relations executive; his mother, Coral, was an avid golfer who held a pilot’s license.
Sager attended Northwestern University, where, after trying out for the football team and playing for the freshman basketball team, he stepped into one of his earliest outrageous guises: Willie the Wildcat, the university’s mascot.
After Northwestern’s football team upset Ohio State, Sager taunted the losing players while still in costume. In response, he wrote, members of the Ohio State marching band “began to push me and poke me with their flagpoles.”
After graduation he became a reporter for a radio station in Sarasota, Fla. On one assignment he leapt onto the field at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium after Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to surpass Babe Ruth as baseball’s home run king. Wearing a trench coat, Sager, then 23, caught up to Mr. Aaron at home plate, amid a scrum of fans, reporters and relatives, to briefly interview him.
Three years later, while covering the Belmont Stakes, Sager slept in Seattle Slew’s stable the night before the thoroughbred won the Triple Crown. Before leaving to take the horse for a morning walk, Sager wrote, he scooped up a piece of Seattle Slew’s excrement and preserved it for the next 39 years as a fragment of history.
Sager also worked at TV stations in Florida and Kansas City, Mo., before joining CNN in 1981. In 1990 he moved to Turner Sports, where, besides the N.B.A., he covered golf, the N.F.L., college football and basketball, and Major League Baseball.
Craig Sager is survived by his son Craig as well as another son, Ryan; his daughters, Kacy, Krista and Riley Sager; his second wife, Stacy; and a sister, Candy Menzemer.
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