As the condolences and remembrances poured out Thursday through social media and every avenue of sports media — broadcast, online, print and otherwise — it was clear that the loss of long-time NBA on TNT broadcaster Craig Sager, at the end of a prolonged battle brought on by leukemia, was not unlike so many we’ve had in 2016.
Sager’s loss brings on a time for reflection, for reevaluation, for somberness but also in remembrance of joy, strength, uniqueness. Maybe not genius (a word too often used today), but something just as valuable — Craig Sager, in spite of his abundant need to stand out sartorially, never put himself above anyone else, never was above the stories he told or the people he covered.
In the end, though, his story, the story of his fight against time and its ultimate end result, wound up being something so deeply personal for so many that it existed, especially in this past 12 months, to strengthen the belief of sports as a uniting force, to remind us that some of the most heroic figures can exist on the margins of a game and that true heroes often mostly have their standing thrust upon them by forces they can not control but that they eventually meet with bravery, clarity and a resolve that can only impress anyone with any understanding of what it means to be human.
“Sages” as you can often hear him called by his Turner colleagues, allowed his “living out loud” persona to be fodder for the generations of sports fans who came up on his minute-long dispatches from the sidelines of arenas that still stand and others that have come and gone. Sager was easy to make fun of and he didn’t mind that, but his lasting legacy places him as a person beyond reproach.
Sager leaves behind him a legacy of thoughtful journalism, a thankless pursuit, and a long reel of outtakes based on his dress and personality, something to make him stand out as a television personality. As a survivor, though, is how Craig Sager will be best remembered. It takes a hell of a person to add definition to the word “strong,” but #Sagerstrong is more than a hashtag, it is a defined way of living now, the video above — a typically excellent profile from HBO’s essential sports show — acts as a chapter of this new, needed Gospel.
Craig Sager, colorful Turner Sports reporter, dies at 65 (CNN)
Former Craig Sager Colleague Rachel Nichols Reports His Death Live On ESPN (Deadspin)
Gregg Popovich Talked About Craig Sager Instead Of Basketball Tonight (Deadspin)
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