#Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was shaken up on the passing of Craig Sager. Didn't take any questions afterward. pic.twitter.com/cHvzH3R8vb— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) December 16, 2016
Gregg Popovich is notoriously tight-lipped. He’s hard to get a read on. Most reporters shake at the thought of post-game press conferences, especially after a loss.
Not Craig Sager.
Sager, 65, passed away on Thursday after a years-long battle with a rare form of leukemia. Among the many things he was known for — his extravagant suits and gleeful energy among them — Sager was one of few sideline reporters to forge a true relationship with San Antonio’s head coach.
On Tuesday, prior to the Spurs road matchup against the Phoenix Suns, Pop shared some words on how the world would be better off if everyone were like Craig Sager.
“On a day like this, basketball has to take a back seat,” a visibly shaken Popovich said. “As we all think about somebody who is 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 or 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. He was a way better person than he was a worker, and he was amazing in that regard. He loved people. He enjoyed pregame, during games, post-game. 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 his situation is beyond my comprehension. If any of us can display half the courage he has to stay on this planet, to live every life as is if it’s his last, we’d be well off. We all miss him very much.”
On Dec. 13, Sager was inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Pop was among the many NBA teams, players and coaches to share sentiments on their lost friend.