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Gregg Popovich Comments on Death of Craig Sager

Joe Pantorno@@JoePantornoFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2016

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 10:  NBA Analyst, Craig Sager interviews Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs during the game against the Chicago Bulls on March 10, 2016 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photos by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich has created a reputation as a man of few words based on his interviews with various sideline reporters over the years.  

But he had an undeniable friendship with TNT's Craig Sager, who died Thursday from leukemia. 

Before the Spurs' game Thursday night against the Phoenix Suns, a somber Popovich spoke with the media about Sager, via Gerald Bourguet of Hoops Habit:

Gerald Bourguet @GeraldBourguet

#Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was shaken up on the passing of Craig Sager. Didn't take any questions afterward. https://t.co/cHvzH3R8vb

During Sager's illness, which lasted more than two years, Popovich was one of the on-air personality's most boisterous supporters, which was a surprising change of pace for the steely-eyed head coach who can make even the most seasoned reporter uneasy. 

He often sent words of encouragement to Sager from sideline interviews, and it was easy to see the joy Pop felt when Sager returned to work in December 2015:

He further delved into his relationship with Sager during an interview with HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, via Cindy Boren of the Washington Post:

He’s just been such a genuine person who really does love the NBA and loves the game, and it comes through and you know that. Even though he does what he does design- and fashion-wise, you know it’s part of the shtick. But his questions are always sensible, they’re always answerable and he does it with fun. He does it with humor. I react to that very positively. So we have a good time together.

Many have appreciated Sager's sideline presence over the years, and it's clear Popovich is among those who will miss him. 

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