Craig Sager Covered His First NBA Finals Game on Thursday, and It Was Perfect (Video)
Craig Sager is the most famous and beloved NBA sideline reporter of all time, and it’s not even close. (No offense, Dorris.) So it probably came as a surprise to a lot of fans to learn that, in all his years covering basketball, Sager had never worked a game in the NBA Finals because he’s always worked for TNT.
However, during the Western Conference Finals, somebody over at ESPN had the fantastic idea to get in touch with the people at TNT and see if they could work out a deal to have Sager join their broadcasting crew for a game.
SI’s Richard Deitsch has the account of how that deal went down:
During the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, which were aired by Turner Sports, Sager learned that ESPN executives were interested in having him be on the sidelines for one of the games of the NBA Finals, an event the longtime sideline reporter had never worked. In a nice bit of corporate thinking between two NBA television partners, Turner Sports vice president of talent services Tara August called Sager after Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals to ask if he’d be interested in working with the ESPN group.
Said Sager: “Would I be interested? My God, of course! But I didn’t want to step on anyone toes, and ESPN has a cast of hundreds. I didn’t want to take away from what Doris [Burke] or anyone else on the crew did. But yeah, I wanted to be a part of it.”
There was one catch, of course. Sager was scheduled to undergo eight days of chemotherapy at Houston’s MD Anderson after the end of Western Conference Finals. “That would be the only time I could do a game, and so it had to be Game 6,” Sager said. “For a while, I thought we would not have a Game 6. It’s been exciting to watch the games and now to be part of the Finals.”
Fortunately for Sager and anyone who has been following his inspirational battle against leukemia, the Cavs were able to force a Game 6. So last night in Cleveland, Craig Sager finally got to cover an NBA Finals game.
How’d it go? Well, not only did Sager get a moving ovation from fans at Quicken Loans Arena…
He also got some pretty damn great interviews. Here’s one with Steven Kerr after the Cavs destroyed the Warriors in the first quarter:
And here’s an even better one with LeBron James after the final buzzer:
If that should happen to be the last interview Sager ever does—and I certainly hope it’s not—damn, what a way to go out.
Well done, ESPN and TNT.
Hat Tip – [Ball Don’t Lie]