Spurs coach Gregg Popovich liked to pretend that he was annoyed by the mere presence of Craig Sager.
Popovich always enjoyed giving Sager a hard time during their in-game interviews but the Spurs coach had great respect for the TNT sideline reporter, who died Thursday at 65 years old. After all it was Popovich who created a tearjerker of a moment when Sager first returned to the sidelines in December 2015 after his first battle with leukemia. And it was Popovich who made Craig Sager Jr. welcome on the sideline when he filled in for his dad in 2014.
So it should come as no surprise that Popovich, just like the rest of the NBA community, was distraught upon hearing the news of Sager's death. Popovich provided an eloquent and heartfelt soliloquy about Sager to reporters before the Spurs played the Suns.
"I guess on a day like this, basketball has to take a back seat as we all think about somebody who was very unique, very special," Popovich said. "Whether you really knew Craig or not, you got the feeling that he was a special person in a lot of different ways. And right now I just feel for his family.
"To talk about him being a professional or good at what he did is a tremendous understatement. All of us who knew him understood that fact, what he was all about as far as work was concerned, but he was a way better person than he was a worker, even though he was amazing in that regard. He loved people, he enjoyed pregame, during games, postgame - he loved all the people around it, and everybody felt that.
"The most amazing part of him is his courage. What he's endured, and the fight that he's put up, the courage that he's displayed during this situation is beyond my comprehension. And if any of us can display half the courage he has to stay on this planet, to live every (day) as if it's his last, we'd be well off. We all miss him very much."