popovich sager1

Gregg Popovich interview with Craig Sager Jr. actually a get-well wish (VIDEO)


Craig Sager is TNT’s tenured sideline reporter, a man well-respected in his profession who is out of action at the moment due to being diagnosed with acute leukemia just before the playoffs began.

Sager’s professional nemesis has historically been Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who often used those in-game interview opportunities to make fun of Sager’s wardrobe, when he wasn’t busy being difficult in providing curt answers to largely innocuous questions.

But Popovich is a genuinely great guy below the occasionally rough exterior, and showed it to a national audience during the Spurs’ Game 1 win over the Mavericks. Once the third quarter was finished, Popovich was kind and responsive to Craig Sager Jr., who filled in for his father on live television.

“You did a great job, but I’d rather have your dad standing here,” Popovich said once the interview was finished. He then looked into the camera and delivered the following heartfelt message.

“Craig, we miss you. You’ve been an important part of all of this for a long time, doing a great job. We want your fanny back on the court, and I promise I’ll be nice. Get back here. Good luck.”

The best part of all of this is that it wasn’t supposed to go down this way. The interview was supposed to be pre-taped, but Popovich insisted on doing it live.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.