Rachel Nichols, who worked with Sager at TNT for three years, gave an emotional report Thursday afternoon about Sager’s passing live on ESPN 2.
“Welcome to The Jump. Literally two of three minutes ago we were informed that our friend Craig Sager has passed away. I’m very sorry to inform you all. Craig, as so many of you know, had such a valiant fight against leukemia. He was diagnosed in 2014. He went through three bone marrow transplants, each one tougher than the last. And, I have to tell you, having had so many conversations with him and his family along the way.
The way Craig fought this spoke so much to the kind of life that he lived, the kind of values he had and the family he had around him. His son was one of his bone marrow donors. His wife Stacy, who has been incredible by his side, they just celebrated their anniversary yesterday and I know it was important to Craig to be able to do that.
I know it was important for him to be at one of his children Riley’s basketball games earlier this week, when his doctors told him that there was no more they could do for him. He fought it. I was talking to his son just a couple of days ago. He did not want to start Hospice or go into the last stage of treatment but he knew he was leaving his family in good hands and that they had been able to absorb so much of his strength.”
Brian Windhorst and Tracy McGrady then were asked to share their thoughts about Sager, who was popular throughout the NBA for his work on the sidelines. McGrady called it “a sad day.”
“He fought the hell out of this,” McGrady said. “I’m hurting today.”
Windhorst talked about the impact Sager had on reporting about basketball as the live broadcast continued. McGrady then mentioned Sager’s style and famous suits before Nichols ended the segment and took The Jump to a commercial break.
“I’m so devastated, I’m not sure I know what to say,” Nichols said. “I knew this was coming—I talked to his family over the last few days—but I’m not sure anything prepares you for this.”