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.
Arrived this morning to do a taped interview with Pop. He goes no, we’re doing this live 3rd qtr just like your Dad. pic.twitter.com/RPAwIt7tvR
— Craig Sager II (@CraigSagerJr) April 20, 2014