Gregg Popovich had a long history of giving TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager a hard time during San Antonio Spurs games. The pair were always friendly, and Sager was perhaps the person best suited to handle the often-prickly Popovich.
That said, Pop has been generously outgoing when it came to Sager as of late, as the 30-year TNT veteran battled leukemia.
On Thursday, Sager lost his battle with the disease at age 65, much to the dismay of his family, the NBA, and basketball fans around the globe who knew of him or know of his goodness.
Before the Spurs took on Suns on Thursday night, Popovich took media questions in the hallway — as coaches do before a game — but basketball was not discussed.
Powerful stuff from Popovich, whose relationship with Sager was one of the more special public relationships we’ve seen between a coach and reporter.
The full quote is below.
On a day like this basketball has to take a back seat. As we all think about somebody who was very unique, very special. Whether you really knew Craig or not, you got the feeling he was a special person in a lot of different ways, and right now I just feel for his family. To talk about him being a professional and good at what he did is a tremendous understatement. All of us who knew him understood that that fact was — what he was all about as far as work was concerned — but he was a way better person than he was a worker, even though he was amazing in that regard. He loved people, he enjoyed pregame, during game, postgame, he loved all the people around it an everybody felt that. The most amazing part of him is his courage, what he’s endured and the fight that he’s put up the courage that he’s displayed during the situation is beyond my comprehension. If any of us can display half the courage he has to stay on this planet, to live every life as if it’s his last, we’d be well off. We all miss him very much.