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Watch: LeBron Shows Class In Moving Post-Game Interview With Reporter Battling Cancer

Watch: LeBron Shows Class In Moving Post-Game Interview With Reporter Battling Cancer
By Gavan Casey
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Fans went berserk when news emerged that legendary basketball reporter Craig Sager would join ESPN's crew for Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

The 64-year-old, who has been battling acute myeloid leukaemia since 2014, has spent three decades covering the sport up the dial at TNT, and due to television rights, had until last night never had the opportunity to cover a Finals game (Sager's season would usually end in May following the Western Conference decider).

The broadcast veteran - described by a doting ESPN commentary team as 'on loan' during the Cavaliers' destruction of the Warriors last night - has gone through multiple courses of treatment for his illness over the past two years, which have kept him off air for long stretches. In a March interview with HBO, he revealed that his leukemia was no longer in remission.

Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated detailed how the one-night-only move to ESPN to cover his first ever Finals game came about:

During the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, which were aired by Turner Sports, Sager learned that ESPN executives were interested in having him be on the sidelines for one of the games of the NBA Finals, an event the longtime sideline reporter had never worked. In a nice bit of corporate thinking between two NBA television partners, Turner Sports vice president of talent services Tara August called Sager after Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals to ask if he’d be interested in working with the ESPN group.

Said Sager: “Would I be interested? My God, of course! But I didn’t want to step on anyone toes, and ESPN has a cast of hundreds. I didn’t want to take away from what Doris [Burke] or anyone else on the crew did. But yeah, I wanted to be a part of it.”

There was one catch, of course. Sager was scheduled to undergo eight days of chemotherapy at Houston’s MD Anderson after the end of Western Conference Finals.

“That would be the only time I could do a game, and so it had to be Game 6,” Sager said. “For a while, I thought we would not have a Game 6. It’s been exciting to watch the games and now to be part of the Finals.”

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Indeed, almost nobody thought we'd see a Game 6 when Golden State took a 3-1 lead in the series just over a week ago. Thankfully for Sager, and the basketball fans amongst whom he's universally adored, the Cavs and their talisman came to life.

After a shit-or-bust victory on Monday night, the Cleveland outift levelled the series at 3-3 last night, with LeBron James again dominating MVP Steph Curry with his second consecutive 41-point display. In victory, the Cavaliers become just the third team in NBA history to claw back a 3-1 deficit and force a seventh game. No side who have found themselves in such dire straits after the first four fixtures have ever gone on to win the Finals, but the Cavs will now have a chance to change that record on Sunday night.

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LeBron spoke with the particularly debonaire Sager post-game, and following some refreshingly positive comments on his rival and physical antithesis Curry, Sager voiced his respect for another all-time great Finals performance by the four-time MVP. LeBron duly threw his arm around Sager and flipped the interview on his fellow basketball legend. It was a stirring moment, and one befitting of James' majestic on-court performance.

If the adoring look on a conspicuously appreciative Sager's face doesn't fill you with joy, seek help.

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