Pop’s heartfelt words to ailing Sager: ‘I promise I’ll be nice’

Craig Sager Jr. interviews Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who sends a heartfelt message to Sager's father.

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In a statement issued Friday, the elder Sager revealed that a battle with leukemia would sideline him from this year’s playoffs:   

Coach Pop is known as a man of few words, and he’s notoriously curt and cantankerous with the media. But in this rare and genuine moment, it’s clear how Pop feels about the ailing Sager, a longtime fixture of the game and one of basketball’s most iconic journalists.

In the video below, Popovich takes a break from the interview and directly addresses the camera:

Popovich wasn’t alone in paying tribute to Sager on Sunday. Before the Spurs and Mavericks tipped off, the NBA on TNT crew — including Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal — donned "special Craig Sager throwback uniforms" to honor their colleague.

In the video from the broadcast, Shaq can even be seen wiping away what appear to be tears, as his broadcasting partners praise Sager:

The NBA on TNT crew pays tribute to their colleague with ‘Craig Sager throwback uniforms.’