Kobe Bryant Believes Craig Sager Was A Master Of ‘Defining Your Own Cool’

Colleagues, coaches, and NBA players have shared their memories of and tributes to Craig Sager, and they all tell a similar story: it’s almost impossible to be as beloved by as many people for kindness, work ethic, and just generally being a good person as Sager was. In a lot of ways, it makes me want to be better not just today, but always, and that’s going to be his impact for a long, long time. People can point to his long career, his impactful moments, or otherwise, but at the end of the day, he affected the lives around him with warmth. It sounds simple, but think about how impossibly difficult that is. And rare.

Kobe Bryant was on Mike and Mike on Friday, and he gave a lot of insight into Sager’s life, legacy, and those outfits. Here were a few of the highlights:

“As players we all looked forward to seeing him,” Bryant said. “A just for what he was going to wear, and B for his explanation of why he’s wearing it, and C just his energy. Whenever he was speaking to players he was speaking with a great amount of energy, but he’d ask great questions, great insightful questions about the game. He was one of the rare reporters who could come up to an athlete, and the athlete feel completely comfortable to be able to be open with him. That’s a rare gift to have.”

On Sager’s outfits:

“There’s only a few of us who can pull that off,” Bryant said of Sager’s outfits. “You’re one of them, and I’m not. God bless you.”

On Sager’s coolness:

“He was Craig,” Bryant said. “He was himself. That’s who he is. When you own that, man, you start defining your own cool, which is what he did.”

On Sager’s interview style:

“It’s in the flexibility of his questions,” Bryant said. “Normally as athletes, and we’re all aware of this when you sit down and you’re given an interview, is there a direction that the person is trying to streer you in. If there’s a direction they’re steering you in, there’s most likely an angle they’re looking for. With Craig there never was that. He would ask a question, you’d give an answer, and the answer you gave would dictate what his next question would be. It was as if you were just having a friendly conversation vs. doing an interview, and those are two completely different things.”

On Sager’s cancer battle:

“He’s just Sager Strong,” Bryant said. “I read that on his phone he kept the Jimmy V speech as a form of inspiration for himself to be able to go on and fight the fight himself. I think he understood having seen what Jimmy V went through how important and how much this could carry on for people that are maybe going through the same thing out in the world, or are going to do the same thing years from now. I think he was very aware of that. Because of the strength he had inside of him, he was able to fight it, and not only just fight it, but put up a beautiful fight.”

This isn’t the end of the outpouring of support for the effect Sager had on so many people in his life, but it’s contextualized in a really good way by Mamba. As Bryant said, “We’ll start peeling back those layers as time goes on, the really profound impact he’s had on the game.”