ESPN.com — Turner Sports reporter Craig Sager will get a chance to work his first NBA Finals, thanks to a unique partnership with ESPN. Sager, a 34-year Turner veteran and popular TNT sideline reporter known for wearing flashy suits, has continued to work as he faces a recurrence of the leukemia he has been battling for the past few years.
He has never worked an NBA Finals series but will share sideline reporting duties with Doris Burke for Thursday’s Game 6 in Cleveland between the Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors (ABC, 9 p.m. ET).
“I’d like to thank Turner and ESPN for approaching me with this tremendous opportunity to be part of The Finals broadcast team,” Sager said in a statement. “I’ve been watching the series very closely and, while I do not want to distract in any way from the event itself, I look forward to being in the building for what will be an incredibly exciting Game 6. The NBA community is a very special one and this is a great honor.”
Sager missed 11 months while undergoing treatment for leukemia and a bone marrow transplant from his son before returning to his position on the sideline during TNT’s NBA coverage in March 2015. But he revealed in an interview with HBO in April that his cancer was no longer in remission.
There’s a weird dynamic with this whole Sager situation where everyone and their mother is going over the top to praise him at every stop… yet it still doesn’t feel like he gets enough credit. Think about how casually he’s handled these last few months. Dude is just strolling out there every week in a new suit, putting on his game face, and absolutely crushing at his job… all despite the fact that he just found out he’s no longer in remission and (reportedly) has very little time left. The man is dying, and he’s just going about his business like a fucking pro. People are pouring praise on him left and right, and he just waives it away with a simple “thank you” and proceeds to do his job. It’s incredible.
So shoutout to Craig… shoutout to Doris Burke for being a the saint that she is and letting Craig have his moment here… shoutout to TNT and ESPN/ABC for letting a good idea play out rather than worrying about contracts and rights deals and whatever else might hold this up… shoutout to everyone involved. Sometimes in this world, shit just makes sense and people allow it to happen. This is one of those times.