Craig Sager (1951–2016)
In the middle of one of his last interviews with Gregg Popovic, the first he conducted after months of treatment for leukemia, Craig Sager said, “I’ve laid in a hospital for months waiting to do this again.” There are a lot good tributes going around to Sager on social media, but I wanted to say something about his dedication to his work — a career that started before he, at the age of 22, stood next to Hank Aaron after his 715th home run and continued all the way up to his death today. Reporters, especially those whose job it is to ask functional, oftentimes dumb questions, don’t get much respect from the public or the stars they cover. Sager, throughout his time at TNT, turned what should have been a terrible job full of small, recurring humiliations into his own theater, one he brought to life with his signature wardrobe and his abiding kindness and humanity. He showed how creativity and humility can turn any job, however perfunctory, into a performance. His desire to get back on the sideline and all those memorable moments of his final days, when you could see the toll leukemia had taken on his body, shows that the fight against cancer isn’t about defeating it so you can live, but about living so that you can have a good account for yourself when it finally takes you away. As a cancer survivor, seeing him on the sideline week after week during his sickness helped me understand that even if things got bad again, there would always be the solace of my family and my work.
RIP Craig Sager.