In his first interview since being diagnosed with acute leukemia, TNT’s Craig Sager says he appreciates the support he has received from his co-workers at Turner Sports and from the NBA. Sager told Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch that when San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke directly to him during an interview with his son, “It was just fabulous, an uplifting, tremendous thing for me.”

He added, “Pop saying he wanted me back and then promising to be nice? I was like, Oh, my God, that’s unbelievable, what an honor … But then I started thinking about it: If I come back and Pop starts being nice to me, it just wouldn’t be right.”

Sager has been undergoing chemotherapy and is in good spirits. He told Deitsch that while working a game in Dallas for TNT earlier this month, he was feeling ill and talked with the Mavericks team doctor. It was after a few questions and a quick diagnosis when the doctor told him to go to the hospital immediately. He was given blood transfusions and underwent tests.

Sager says after an original cancer-free diagnosis, he went for a second opinion when the leukemia was detected. A third opinion confirmed the leukemia and Sager started chemotherapy which will continue through mid-week.

He adds that watching the NBA playoffs has been helpful and his humor has been getting him through what can be a difficult time.

“Getting my first chemo was very emotional. I’m thinking, What is this going to be like, how will it feel, what effects will it have on my body — a total unknown. I have never been sick a day in my life. All of sudden they are administering the first chemo and [ESPN/ABC play-by-play announcer] Mike Breen gets on the air and says, ‘Hey, we just want to say we miss Craig Sager.’ That happened right as the first chemo came. I was like, Wow, I feel better now from the love and support of the airwaves!”

Sager says he appreciates the on-air tributes from his colleagues and hopes to be back home after he responds to treatment.

We at Awful Announcing send Sager our best and wish to see him back on the airwaves soon.

[Sports Illustrated]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.