The NBA grieved over the death of popular TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager on Thursday night. But some teams chose to express those feelings Sager-style — in a loud, colorful and joyous manner.
“We mourn his loss, but while we considered a moment of silence, we thought it would be more appropriate given the way Craig lived his life and the joy that he brought to so many people to have a moment of joy instead,” Golden State Coach Steve Kerr told the crowd at the Oracle before the Warriors’ game against the Knicks.
“So I’d like all of you to join me in applause,” Kerr continued before getting drowned out by the cheers of the crowd.
Kerr and Knicks Coach Jeff Hornacek also honored Sager by wearing a tie resembling the coat the flamboyant broadcaster wore while accepting the Jimmy V award at the ESPYs in July. Warriors players donned warm-up jerseys inspired by Sager’s outrageous outfits.
Milwaukee Bucks players wore the same warm-up jerseys before their game against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.
Their cheerleaders were similarly attired.
So was the Suns’ Devin Booker in Phoenix before his team’s game against San Antonio.
Suns Coach Earl Watson said of Sager: “Every genius is never afraid of being exactly who they are. And he was a genius at his job, a genius at everything that he’s done. He stayed true to himself, and we all embraced him.”
Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich spoke to reporters before the game, giving a moving tribute to his close friend and on-camera foil:
“On a day like this, basketball has to take a back seat as we all think about somebody who was very unique, very special. Whether you really knew Craig or not, you got the feeling that he was a special person in a lot of different ways. And right now, I just feel for his family. To talk about him being a professional and good at what he did is a tremendous understatement.
“All of us who knew him understood that that fact was what he was all about as far as work was concerned, but he was a way better person than he was a worker — even though he was amazing in that regard.
“He loved people. He enjoyed pregames, during games, postgames. He loved all the people around it, and everybody felt that. So, the most amazing part of him is his courage. What he’s endured and the fight that he’s put up, the courage that he’s displayed during this situation is beyond my comprehension. If any of us could display half the courage he has to stay on this planet — to live every life as if it’s his last — we’d be well off.