Get Well Soon: Celebrating Craig Sager's Best NBA Moments

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2014

Get Well Soon: Celebrating Craig Sager's Best NBA Moments

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Craig Sager has become synonymous with sideline reporting for good reason. No one gets it right quite like he does, the effortless mix of hard-hitting questions and entertaining fodder. Unfortunately, we'll have to spend the next three to four weeks without Sager as he undergoes treatment for acute leukemia.

    We at Bleacher Report wish him a speedy recovery, and we're pretty sure everyone else in the sporting universe does the same.

    Sager is an icon. His attire—as we well know by now—is one of a kind in the best possible way.

    His sense of where to take an interview is a model for anyone looking to become a dynamic journalist. Sager knows people, and he knows how to talk to them. And it's to our great benefit that we've had the chance to get to know him too.

    Until he gets back on the job, we'll be missing one of the best. And to stave off those Sager cravings a little bit in the meantime, here's a look at some of his finest moments.


Honorable Mention—Keith Olbermann: "Leukemia Picked the Wrong Opponent."

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    This isn't technically a Sager moment, but Keith Olbermann's heartfelt tribute to the man he started working with over 30 years ago is a must-see.

    Olbermann talks about Sager's endurance, generosity and kindness, ultimately concluding that, "Leukemia picked the wrong opponent."

    Any fan of Sager's will appreciate Olbermann's sentiments. They reveal a side of Sager that we don't always get to see on television, and they speak to how beloved he is within the industry. Sometimes it's coworkers that know us the best, and Olbermann's praise of Sager is uncompromising. 

    You can see Olbermann hosting MLB baseball on TBS during the postseason or catch him on his own late-night show that airs on ESPN2.

10. LeBron to Sager: "Get out of Here, Craig."

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    Let's start with one of Sager's more recent moments.

    After one of the most defining plays of the 2013-14 season, Sager got both sides of the story. Was Mason Plumlee's crunch-time block on LeBron James a foul?

    Plumlee notes that the only three people who mattered didn't think so.

    James indicated otherwise, eventually telling him to "get out of here" when asked if the Brooklyn Nets were now the primary threat to the Miami Heat returning to the NBA Finals. James was playful in his response, but clearly unhappy about the outcome of the game.

    Even when Sager's off camera, he knows how to get a great answer. This is a man who's about more than fancy suits.

9. Sager's Closet

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    But about those fancy suits...

    Craig Sager dresses for the occasion. Here we get a little insight into the thinking that goes into those decisions—what to wear in Indiana as opposed to Miami. We even learn that Sager has separate closets for the two cities so as not to get mixed up.

    The glimpse into Craig's sensibilities is fascinating. He takes a more conservative approach in Indianapolis, reflecting everything from the city's culture to its weather.

    Predictably, things get a little more lively and colorful for South Beach.

    At the end of the day, Sager concedes that what he wears for any given game ultimately depends on how he's feeling the day of. 

    If you're a shoe fan, there's plenty for you to chew on here—everything from eel to crocodile patchwork. This is a man who will go to serious lengths to ensure his shoes match the suit.

    We wouldn't expect anything less.

8. Pop to Sager: "We Have to Do This in the Preseason?"

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    It's hard to pick just one moment between these two. Somehow Sager finds a way to get San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to almost—almost—open up a little bit.

    Popovich is incredulous about having to do an interview during a preseason game. Sager reminds him that he needs practice (asking questions) too, and that, "It's part of the contract."

    It's classic back-and-forth between two guys with utterly unique and exceptional senses of humor.

    The mutual appreciation between these two is also unmistakable. Craig even gets a pat on the back before Popovich walks off and gets back to business.

    Popovich is known to be terse in his response to interview questions, but you get the idea he actually has a good time with Sager. Polar opposites though they seem (at least on any spectrum of introverted and extroverted personalities), they seem to understand each other. 

7. Sager or Sofa

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    Sometimes Sager doesn't even have to be there to get a good laugh. It's a testament to the extent to which he's known and beloved. His reputation precedes him, and it's hard to think of many sports journalists who've accrued such a cult following.

    In this segment, players from around the league look at a fabric and guess whether it's something Sager's worn or a sofa. You can imagine the potential for confusion and hilarity that ensues.

    This is a good one to play along with.

    I'm guessing Sager every single time.

6. Chris Paul Says "Easter Passed"

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    Sager has a thing for those bright spring colors. Chris Paul took notice after his Clippers stunned the Memphis Grizzlies 99-98 in Game 1 of the 2011-12 first round, ultimately reminding Sager that "Easter passed."

    As he's so often done, Sager laughed it off. He's gotten pretty used to it by now.

    The Clippers went on to win the series in seven games before bowing out to the San Antonio Spurs in the semifinals.

    Check out Paul's busted lip while watching this one. As Sager confirmed, the rest of him was feeling just fine.

5. Kevin Garnett Part 1: Retro Isn't Always a Good Thing

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    In fairness to Craig, this suit wasn't even that bad.

    But don't tell it to KG. He has a history with Sager, and he's unafraid to share his unbiased fashion advice in no uncertain terms.

    After sharing an African proverb and exploring the possibility that the New York Knicks were quitting on Isiah Thomas, Garnett gets to the heart of the interview—finally addressing Sager's attire at the 1:12 mark.

    "You can't just grab something from the 1970s and try to bring it back."

    Sager countered that Garnett was attempting to bring back the Celtics' heyday. The argument didn't seem to change KG's mind.

4. David Stern's Final Game as Commissioner

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    There are big interviews, and then there are big interviews.

    Lest we forget that Sager can actually conduct quite the serious interview, here he talks to David Stern as he attends his final game as commissioner—a contest between the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks.

    Sager covers everything from Stern's biggest mistake to how he's successfully internationalized the game.

    Finally, Sager admits that his "conservative" attire had a little something to do with the NBA's dress code. Always prepared for the moment, Sager got some great comments in this one.

3. Everything Phil Jackson

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    Part of Sager's brilliance is the rapport he's built with all the league's big names, Phil Jackson included.

    You can tell from their series of interactions that Jackson felt perfectly comfortable ribbing Sager or using a little bit of sarcasm. There's certainly a symmetry between the interactions here and how Sager gets along with Gregg Popovich.

    The great coaches really like Sager, and Sager brings the best out of them. 

    Sometimes all it takes a funny suit.

    Sager proves that humor is contagious. Lightening the tone before an interview creates results time and time again. 

2. Shopping with Sager

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    Bleacher Report's Lance Fresh gave us an inside look into how Sager goes about his suit acquisition. Yes, there's a serious method to the madness.

    Sager thinks through the colors and fabrics, admitting that while most of the fabrics "are for ladies," they can easily be made into sports coats. He also declares, "I don't want to look like a banker."

    So far, so good on that front.

    Here we see Sager get measured and fitted, eventually walking away with a brand new suit, or what he describes as "my candy store."

    For any fan of Sager's wardrobe, this is a must-watch.

1. Kevin Garnett Part 2: "Burn It"

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    This one's a classic.

    Just in case you thought KG was equivocating the first time he offered Sager counsel, let there be no doubt. The two men apparently have very different tastes in clothing. And that may be a significant understatement.

    Sager handled the rant brilliantly, at one point asking Garnett if, "there's not any part [he] can keep."

    Garnett declined.

    When it was all said, the 10-15 seconds Garnett requested turned into a minute. Sager politely thanked Garnett for the advice.