DALLAS -- NBA coaches around the league offered heartfelt reactions to TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager, who lost his two-year battle with cancer and died on Thursday.
A pioneer of sorts who was well known for wearing flashy clothes, Sager had a very close relationship with the NBA coaches because he interviewed them at the end of the first and third quarters during the broadcast of TNT games. Some of those interviews often took a playful turn.
"NBA coaches salute the impactful life and career of our friend Craig Sager,’’ Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said in a statement released by the team. "Craig was an enthusiastic foot soldier for the greatness of the NBA game and leaves us as an unforgettable and defiant symbol of strength.
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"The thoughts and prayers of all NBA coaches go out to his family.’’
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers talked about Sager’s tireless work as a reporter.
“The NBA lost a giant today, and I've lost a dear friend,’’ Rivers said in a statement. “Craig and I have owned a business together, we have worked together at TNT, and he has covered me and the teams I've worked with over the years.
“What always stood out to me were the traits he possessed that we want all our great players to have. He was the hardest worker and the most unselfish person I knew. On behalf of the entire Clipper family, we extend our sincerest condolences to his family. Heaven just got brighter.’’
Minnnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau was equally touched by the beacon of light Sager became while he battled cancer.
“I am truly saddened by the news of the passing of one of the NBA’s great personalities in Craig Sager,’’ Thibodeau said. “I always enjoyed our interactions together and, like many, looked forward to seeing what particular suit he had on that given night.
“I will remember Craig for his infectious smile, his will and determination and the upbeat spirit he lived his life with every day. We will forever be Sager Strong. On behalf of the Minnesota Timberwolves, our thoughts and prayers are with the Sager family during this difficult time.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver talked about the impact Sager had on professional basketball.
“I -- along with the entire NBA family -- am deeply saddened by the passing of Craig Sager,’’ Silver said in a statement. "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 colorful 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, Stacy; his children, Kacy, Craig Jr., Krista, Riley and Ryan; and his friends and colleagues.’’