NBA commissioner Silver mourns passing of Craig Sager

By Alec Brzezinski and Brandon Schlager 16 December 2016 61
NBA commissioner Silver mourns passing of Craig Sager

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich mourned the loss of long-time and popular NBA reporter Craig Sager.

Sager died at the age of 65 on Thursday after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in April 2014.

And Silver led the tributes for the lively and colourful Sager, saying in a statement: "I, along with the entire NBA family, am deeply saddened by the passing of Craig Sager.

"Craig was as vital to the NBA as the players and coaches. A true original and an essential voice on Turner Sports' NBA coverage for 26 seasons, Craig chronicled some of the most memorable moments in league history and was a ubiquitous presence with his splashy suits and equally colourful personality.

"Craig earned widespread respect for his insightful reporting and inspired so many most recently with his courage. Our hearts go out to his wife, Stacey, his children, and his friends and colleagues."

Sager missed the NBA playoffs in 2014 and most of the 2014-15 season while undergoing treatment.

He also was forced to miss the 2015 NCAA Tournament and the entire 2015 NBA playoffs.

Following a bone marrow transplant last July, Sager returned to reporting for the first game of the 2015–16 NBA season.

The transplant sent his cancer into remission, but it returned in March and Sager was given a timeline of three-six months to live. He underwent a third and final bone marrow transplant in September, but it was not enough.

Sager developed a rapport with the usually prickly Spurs boss Popovich throughout his career.

Popovich devoted his pre-game media availability to remember the life of Sager without taking any further questions.

"I guess on a day like this, basketball has to take a back seat as we all think about somebody who was very unique, very special. Whether you really knew Craig or not, you got the feeling that he was a special person in a lot of different ways. And right now I just feel for his family," Popovich said.

"To talk about him being a professional or good at what he did is a tremendous understatement. All of us who knew him understood that fact, what he was all about as far as work was concerned, but he was a way better person than he was a worker, even though he was amazing in that regard. He loved people, he enjoyed pregame, during games, postgame — he loved all the people around it, and everybody felt that.

"The most amazing part of him is his courage. What he's endured, and the fight that he's put up, the courage that he's displayed during this situation is beyond my comprehension. And if any of us can display half the courage he has to stay on this planet, to live every [day] as if it's his last, we'd be well off. We all miss him very much."