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Watch Craig Sager Jr., in for ailing father, interview Gregg Popovich

Professional BasketballGregg PopovichSan Antonio SpursNBA Playoffs

Craig Sager will be a notable absense from the NBA playoffs this year as he undergoes treatment for leukemia.

The TNT sideline analyst known for his wild wardrobe made the announcement Friday in typically charismatic fashion.

“My favorite time of year — city to city, round by round, 40 games in 40 nights" he said in a statement. A dramatic turn has matched me with acute myeloid leukemia. From the sidelines to being sidelined, 40 veins and 40 electrolytes. Too bad, I had some probing questions for Pop.”

The last sentence refers, of course, to his famous on-screen relationship with San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich, who is known for his terse answers to all reporters but seems to have developed an ever-so-slight soft spot for Sager.

For the Spurs playoff opener Sunday against Dallas, TNT provided a suitable replacement on the sideline -- Craig Sager Jr., 25, a former football walk-on at Georgia who is the assistant managing editor for the Score Atlanta.

Popovich took it easy on the ponytailed kid, who was wearing a bright orange tie from his father's collection. "You did a great job, but I'd rather have your father here," Popovich said during the interview, which he insisted on doing live rather than taped.

The coach then turned to the camera and addressed Sager: “We miss you. You've been an important part of all of us for a long time, doing a great job. We want your fanny back on the court, and I promise I'll be nice.”

The younger Sager later tweeted that Popovich also gave him a hand-written letter to deliver to his father.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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