June 15, 2016
Draymond Green’s suspension from game five of the NBA Finals not only helped the Cleveland Cavaliers extend the series, but it will also bring some extreme color to game six. In a deal between Turner Sports and ESPN, TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager will work the sidelines on the NBA Finals for the first time.
Sager, known for his outrageously colorful suits while reporting, thought he was done with the NBA this season after the Western Conference Finals, which TNT broadcasts. But ESPN reached out to Turner Sports about bringing on Sager, who had never worked a NBA Finals game in his long distinguished career.
The 64-year-old reporter needed the finals to reach game six if he was going to be able to work the sidelines. Sager is currently undergoing treatment for leukemia, and after the Western Conference Finals ended he underwent eight days of chemotherapy.
That left only game six as an option for him to work his first finals game. He will join ESPN’s normal sideline reporter, Doris Burke, during the broadcast. Also working game six will be play-by-play commentator Mike Breen and analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson.
Sager, diagnosed in 2014, missed 11 months of work while fighting leukemia and having a bone marrow transplant from his son before returning to TNT’s NBA coverage in March. He revealed in an interview with HBO in April that his cancer is no longer in remission.
In his 34-year career with Turner Sports, Sager has worked on NFL and college coverage for TNT and TBS, MLB Postseason coverage for TBS, Olympic coverage with NBC during the London Olympics, the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament, which CBS broadcasts and other sporting events during his career.
Sager just finished his 26th season as sideline reporter for TNT’s Thursday Night NBA double-headers. It is this role that Sager is probably best known for in his career, as he tried to glean any information out of NBA coaches while standing out in his colorful suits.
It is not unusual for networks to share on-air talent, as Sager has worked for NBC and done golf for CBS. ESPN is also honoring Sager during the 2016 ESPY Awards on July 13 with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award.
The award is named after former North Carolina State University basketball coach and ESPN analyst Jim Valvano, who is known for his “Don’t Give Up” speech. He gave the speech during in 1993, the first ESPY Awards, when he received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Valvano passed away eight weeks after giving his memorable speech.
Sager joins the likes of ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott, NFL player Devon Still and his daughter Leah Still, NBA coach George Karl and former college football player Eric LeGrand among others.
Game six could also see the Golden State Warriors win the NBA Championship if they can defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers. If the Warriors can’t win in Cleveland, the series goes to a deciding game seven.
Coverage of game six begins on ABC at 7:30 p.m. with NBA Countdown and the game starting at 8 p.m. and postgame coverage on ABC and ESPN’s SportsCenter.