We mentioned the Heat getting back into their game with the Spurs during a push in the third period Thursday night. That’s when Craig Sager had to interview Gregg Popovich. It didn’t go so well as you’ll see as Popovich’s condescending replies contrasted awkwardly with Sager’s typically flamboyant suit.
Sager’s fate during his cumbersome minute talking with Pop was more a question of bad timing than anything he overtly might have done. The Heat had stormed back to within eight points of the Spurs to start the fourth after San Antonio had dominated large swathes of the first three quarters of the game.
You can tell Pop is cranky because he asks Sager to repeat his long first question. Sager gets right to the point and asks, “How do you keep LeBron James a perimeter player tonight and out of the paint?”
“I have no clue,” Popovich curtly responds.
Then the two stare at each other the way unhappily married couples might do after a biting remark in front of friends at a dinner party. Sager recovers himself in time and asks Pop how the Spurs can get back to the ball movement they showed during their 37-22 thrashing of the Heat in the first quarter.
Popovich, in a fit of eloquence says, “I thought our pace was really poor in the third quarter. I thought we played in mud.” We think Popovich likes to muddy the interview any time Sager is at the mic.
During last season’s playoffs, ESPN’s Marc Stein published a treatise on all of Popovich’s run-ins with various sideline reporters, and Sager himself was deemed the most irksome to Pop. But Sager â€” to his credit â€” understands, telling Stein he doesn’t blame Pop for his sometimes lethargic or irritable replies:
“He’s sitting there with all this stuff going through his head, thinking about adjustments he wants to make and talking to his staff and how he’s going to get that message to his players, and then he has to stop and talk to, say, me,” Sager explains. “That’s what the [TV] contract calls for, but for him, I’m an irritant. I’m a nuisance. So whatever I get out of him, I’m happy to get. If it’s not exactly what we’re looking for and not what I was hoping for, I can’t blame him. He doesn’t want to be interrupted when he’s doing his job.”
Sager’s a good guy even if he’s a sartorial mess.
What do you think?
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