NAILED IT: ESPN Will Employ Craig Sager For Game 6 Of The NBA Finals
Regardless of your feelings about the direction that ESPN has taken in the last few years, there is no arguing that they have the ability to flex their muscle as the "worldwide leader" of 24-hour sports news. This time they are using their powers for good, and basketball fans will benefit because of it.
ESPN's public relations department released a statement on Wednesday announcing that longtime sideline reporter Craig Sager will be joining their broadcast of Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night. Sager, who has been with Turner Sports in various capacities for nearly three decades, has never worked for ESPN or ABC and therefore has never been part of an NBA Finals broadcast team.
"Revered Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager will join ESPN’s NBA Finals broadcast team for Game 6 – Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – Thursday, June 16, at 9 p.m. ET on ABC. Sager will share sideline reporting duties with Doris Burke to round out Thursday’s team...
This unique, one-time opportunity marks the first time Sager has worked an NBA Finals broadcast in his legendary career."
It's hard to believe that Sager has never worked on an NBA Finals broadcast. He is so quintessential to the experience of being an American sports fan, not to mention the fact that he's one of the basketball's most recognizable and beloved reporters.
The decision to include him as part of the broadcast team in his first Finals is made all the more meaningful by the fact that Sager is in the midst of an uphill battle with leukemia.
“I’d like to thank Turner and ESPN for approaching me with this tremendous opportunity to be part of The Finals broadcast team,” Sager said in a statement. “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.”
It really will be a special thing to see Sager working alongside Doris Burke, as they are easily two of the best sideline reporters in the game; and it's reassuring to know that no matter what happens, Sager will have had the opportunity to be part of a Finals broadcast. That's an honor that is more than deserved.
Now the cynic in me is all too aware that this move could also drum up ratings for the network's ESPY Awards broadcast in July, as Sager has been named as the recipient of the Jimmy V. Award for Perseverance. But I am choosing to believe that ESPN has teamed up with Turner Sports here for all of the right reasons, and none of the more nefarious ones.
Former NC State coach Jim Valvano was awarded the first Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY's in 1993 just weeks before he passed away from bone cancer at the age of 47. His iconic "Don't Ever Give Up" speech, and his dedication to finding the cure for cancer, inspired the award that will be presented to Sager.
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