Gregg Popovich Being Praised For In-Game Message To Turner's Craig Sager
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has gained a reputation for giving abrupt responses to in-game interviews conducted by sideline reporters, but he is garnering kudos today for a heartfelt message he delivered to Craig Sager. The long-time Turner Sports personality is missing the NBA postseason this year as he is undergoing treatment for leukemia. During the opening game in the Mavericks-Spurs first-round series yesterday, Popovich was interviewed by Sager's son, Craig Jr. After answering several questions, Popovich said to Craig Jr., "You did a great job, but I'd rather have your dad standing here." Popovich then looked into the camera and said, "We miss you. You've been an important part of all this for a long time doing a great job. We want your fannie back on the court and I promise I'll be nice. Get back here. Good luck" ("Mavericks-Spurs," TNT, 4/20
). ESPN's John Buccigross noted Craig Jr. "later tweeted he was supposed to do it taped, but Pop wanted to do it live." Popovich also gave him a "handwritten letter to deliver to his father" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 4/20
). ESPN's Mike Greenberg said it was Popovich who "wanted Craig Sager Jr. ... to do the between-quarters interview." ESPN's Mike Golic said of Popovich, "You look forward to his sideline interviews just to see how short they can be and how short he can be with anybody interviewing him. So this was a very, very special moment what he did." Greenberg said of Popovich, "Here's the crusty old guy showing the heart of gold. It's a terrific moment" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 4/21
). CBSSPORTS.com’s Gregg Doyel wrote, “This was Pop at his gentlest, congratulating the younger Sager on his questions and then turning to the TNT camera to speak directly to Sager's father” (CBSSPORTS.com, 4/20
RAIDING SAGER'S WARDROBE: In N.Y., Bernie Augustine noted TNT’s "Inside the NBA" crew of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal wore "Sager-style suits during the studio show” yesterday. Meanwhile, announcers Marv Albert and Steve Kerr during Game 1 of the Wizards-Bulls series "donned not-so-regular suit-shirt combos in a nod to Sager” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/21). BROADCASTING & CABLE's John Eggerton notes Albert wore an "Easter Parade-inspired lavender assemblage," while O'Neal wore a seersucker suit and Kerr a shirt "that looked like an explosion in an egg dying kit factory." The pregame of Wizards-Bulls featured a player from each team holding a sign "promoting the Twitter hashtag #getwellsager" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 4/21).