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Turner Sports and ESPN collaborated for a good cause Wednesday when they announced that 64-year-old sideline reporter Craig Sager will work his first NBA Finals game on Thursday for Game 6 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.
Sager has worked for Turner Sports for 34 years, but has never worked an NBA Finals game, partially because ESPN and ABC broadcast the games.
Sager has been locked in a battle with leukemia for a few years. He returned to the sidelines after undergoing treatment in March 2015 and worked much of this NBA season. He announced on an HBO program this season that his cancer is no longer in remission.
The NBA world has paid tribute to Sager all season, honoring his diligent work and his signature flashy suits.
Sager said in a statement:
I’d like to thank Turner and ESPN for approaching me with this tremendous opportunity to be part of The Finals broadcast team. I’ve been watching the series very closely and, while I do not want to distract in any way from the event itself, I look forward to being in the building for what will be an incredibly exciting Game 6. The NBA community is a very special one and this is a great honor.
ESPN executive vice president John Wildhack said in a statement, “I know our entire team is delighted to work with Craig for Game 6. We all agree his professional reputation is second-to-none, though it’s his personal reputation – that of class, selflessness and respect – which makes this even more special for our team.”
Wildhack added that he is “grateful” for Turner Sports’ collaborating with ESPN.
While Sager will split sideline duties with ESPN reporter Doris Burke, it’s a nice gesture from both ESPN and Turner Sports to give Sager the opportunity.