TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager has died at the age of 65, Turner announced Thursday.
Sager had battled cancer for more than two years. He was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2014. He went into remission after a bone marrow transplant, but the the disease ultimately returned in March.
The iconic reporter was beloved in the NBA and beyond. Best known for his affable, vivid personality and his array of colorful suits, Sager was a fixture on the sidelines at NBA games.
Sager was a larger–than–life figure in basketball, admired among players, coaches, fans and fellow media members. Just this year, on the biggest stage, Sager could become the story: During Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Cavaliers fans gave Sager—covering his first Finals—a standing ovation. After the game, during an interview with Sager, LeBron James wondered aloud, "How in the hell did you go 30-plus years without getting a Finals game? That don’t make no sense!" Even Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, normally crotchety during league–mandated conversations with reporters between quarters, could enjoy a mid–game interview with Sager, at least on one occasion.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver paid tribute to Sager in a statement on Thursday, calling him a "ubiquitous presence."
"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 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.”
Turner president David Levy also honored Sager in a statement.
"Craig Sager was a beloved member of the Turner family for more than three decades and he has been a true inspiration to all of us. There will never be another Craig Sager. His incredible talent, tireless work ethic and commitment to his craft took him all over the world covering sports," Levy said in a statement. "While he will be remembered fondly for his colorful attire and the TNT sideline interview he conducted with NBA coaches and layers, it's the determination, grace and will to live he displayed during his battle with cancer that will be his lasting impact. Our thoughts and prayers are with Craig's wife, Stacy, and the entire Sager family during this difficult time. We will forever be Sager Strong."
After graduating from Northwestern University, Sager went on to report for CNN, TNT, TBS and CBS during his illustrious broadcasting career. Last week, the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame announced that Sager will be included with this year's class of inductees.
The sports world rallied around Sager during his bout with cancer. He received the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the ESPY Awards in 2016, where he delivered an extraordinary speech following an introduction from Vice President Joe Biden.
SI's Lee Jenkins wrote about Sager in a cover story earlier this year in the May 2, 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated. You can read Jenkins's full story on Sager's defiantly optimistic battle with cancer on The Crossover.