The San Antonio Spurs have gotten support from many over the years and one of their biggest supporters is the son of NBA on TNT’s sideline reporter Craig Sager. The man infamous for his colorful and wacky suits has been battling acute myeloid leukemia and his son, Craig Jr., has been a huge supporter of the Spurs and I had the chance to sit down with him and get an update on his father while talking Spurs basketball.
Stephen Anderson: Thank you for joining me today, Mr. Sager, hope all is going well with you and your family.
Craig Sager Jr.: My pleasure. I appreciate the invite.
Before we begin, can you update us on how your father is doing?
Friday morning was the big Sager meeting we’ve been waiting for with the doctors on whether or not he would need the bone marrow transplant and when that would be. We found out I was a 100% match last week, which is rare, so we were anticipating a transplant sometime next month. The meeting confirmed and my Dad will start another round of chemo next week. He’ll get a week off and then he’ll do one more week of chemo leading up to the transplant. The purpose of the chemo is basically shutdown his immune system so he can take mine and regrow a new one. It will be a long recovery and a tough one, but my Dad seems ready. His first chemo did it’s job and he’s A+ according to the doctors heading into this stage of the recovery.
What is it about the Spurs performance this season that has caught your eye?
The biggest difference with this year’s team to me is how well Ginobili is running the show. He’s got Patty Mills with him and I think his pace matches Manu’s and he is being a lot more patient. Last year we saw Manu trying to do too much and committing frustrating turnovers. Now Manu is being patient and taking what the defense gives him. He’s been incredible.
Gregg Popovich has been known to have an ‘anti-media’ attitude. But you’ve seen a different side to him from a hand written note for your father and most recently, he called to see how your dad is doing. Has this kinder side of Pop surprised you?
He’s actually calling my cell phone to ask about my Dad! I know WOW! So that is even more incredible. To talk to Popovich hours before Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. That being said, I’m obviously surprised to be getting phone calls from my favorite coach of all-time, but I am not surprised by Popovich reaching out to the family. He is a loyal and caring guy and I remember meeting him for the first time with my Dad 11 years ago. He and my Dad were talking after the game outside of the locker room and Pop took a minute to introduce himself to me and ask me about my trip with my Dad since he was telling Pop I had been with him the whole Western Conference series. Pop doesn’t remember our conversation obviously, but I did and I knew what kind of guy he was. When I had to interview him I was nervous for myself, I knew he would be the class act that he is.
While most call this Spurs ‘boring’ – you see them as unique. Can you explain more?
I live in Atlanta and right in the heart of “SEC nation”. Where I am from people do not like pro sports as much as college and there are not many NBA fans. Basically I am used to defending the game. The Spurs have always been my favorite team to watch and I like knowing what I am going to get from them game in and game out. There are a lot of one-dimensional and streaky teams but the Spurs don’t disappoint. Just like I don’t like watching a football team that can only run the ball or only pass the ball. The Spurs play with balance that is beautiful to watch plus it is Hall of Famers playing in harmony together. You just cannot beat watching Spurs basketball.
What do you think about what Tim Duncan has done quietly in these playoffs?
Duncan has been on top of it. He has been dominant on the glass and he is shooting at such a high efficiency. Phenomenal.
If the Spurs do win it all, in your opinion do Popovich and Duncan retire together?
I have always thought the two would retire together. My guess before the season was that San Antonio would get its revenge and knock off the Heat in 6 like they should’ve done last year and Duncan and Popovich would then go out on top. We will see though. They both are still rolling!
Mr. Sager, thank you for your time.
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