Sports Reporter Stands Out From The Sidelines

Jun 3, 2012
Originally published on June 3, 2012 12:50 pm

On Saturday night, the NBA semifinals notched yet another thriller as the Oklahoma City Thunder resisted a late push by the San Antonio Spurs. The series is now even at 2-2.

Thunder star Kevin Durant's fourth-quarter heroics were a spectacle — but just as mesmerizing was the man patrolling the sidelines in a pearly white jacket, blue shirt and fire-truck red pants.

That would be Craig Sager, TNT's go-to sideline reporter for NBA games. His outlandish outfits have made him an iconic part of the NBA on TV.

Take his famous getup from the 2009 All-Star Game: a pink, checked suit jacket over a red-and-white striped shirt with a blue-and-red tie, all bottomed off by red pants, socks and shoes. It was garish even by his standards, and Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics afterward told him to burn it.

Occasionally, his clothes are even a technical issue. At the 2001 All-Star Game, Sager wore a black and silver double-silk Versace jacket. It was flashy — literally. At certain angles, the jacket reflected light at the cameras, so at halftime, TNT asked him to change.

"It illuminated, and they said it looked like the sun screen you put in the dashboard of your car in the summer to reflect the sun," he told Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin.

Sager is on the road reporting on the Spurs-Thunder series for TNT, and his considerable closet goes with him. He was considering three pairs of shoes for his next outfit.

"I've got a pair of black alligator shoes. They actually have the eyeballs in them," he said. "I've got another pair next to them, these are crocodile. Then I've got a pair of ostrich."

More generally, Sager's simply attracted to bright colors and patterns. Maybe, he said, there's just something in his personality. But there's a practical element to that, too.

"It helps to spot me in the audience when my camera guys are looking for me to do interviews," he explained.

Sager is tough to miss on the sidelines between the bright colors and outlandish jackets. And his wardrobe selections frequently draw comments from players, coaches and — most often — the fans.

"Earlier in the series I was in San Antonio, and I had on this blue coat that I thought was gorgeous. I'd just gotten it," he said. "All these fans were saying, 'Man, you're wearing Thunder colors!'" Not so.

"I said, 'I'm not wearing Thunder colors. This is a sky blue. They're more of a deep blue.'"

Sager's impervious to the comments, though.

"Some people maybe think it's too outlandish, but I have fun," he explained. "I buy it all myself. I pick it all out myself. I once in a while get some help from my 7-year-old daughter. Some people might not like it; my 7-year-old, she likes it."

And what's he wearing for Monday night's Game 5 between the Spurs and Thunder? Reporting from his closet, Sager picked out an outfit.

"Since you put me on the spot, I will wear this pink, black and yellow checked coat, with a pink, white and black diamond tie, with a pink shirt, black pants and those crocodile shoes with the eyeballs," he said. "That will stand out in San Antonio."

Sager will be on hand for the rest of the series between the Thunder and the Spurs. He and the rest of the TNT crew will report from Game 5 Monday night in San Antonio.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Last night in the NBA semifinals, the Oklahoma City Thunder outlasted the San Antonio Spurs to even up the series at 2 and2. Thunder star Kevin Durant's fourth-quarter heroics were a spectacle to be sure, but just as show stopping was the man patrolling the sidelines in a pearly white jacket, blue shirt and fire-truck red pants. That would be Craig Sager, TNT's go-to sideline reporter for the NBA. He's been wearing outfits like these for decades and not everybody loves them.

KEVIN GARNETT: Tonight, I'm stressing to you, you take this outfit home and you burn it.

MARTIN: That was Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics after the 2009 All-Star Game. Craig Sager wardrobe isn't just a subject of controversy, though, it can be a technical problem as it was in the 2001 All-Star Game.

CRAIG SAGER: Because it was a double-silk Versace, it was black and silver. And it illuminated, and they said it looked like the sunscreen you put in the dashboard of your car in the summer to reflect the sun.

MARTIN: Can you describe your style?

SAGER: Well, let's see. I'm looking right here. I've got a pair of black alligator shoes. They actually have the eyeballs in them. I've got another pair next to them, these are crocodile. Then I've got a pair of ostrich. I don't know. It's just something in my personality. I just like lively colors.

MARTIN: Do you often get reactions from players, coaches, fans?

SAGER: Ah, yes. Lots from the fans. I like to wear bright colors. It helps out to spot me in the audience when my camera guys are looking for me to do interviews. But you have to be careful, especially with the home fans because they're so passionate about their team. And earlier in the series I was in San Antonio, and I had on this blue coat that I thought was gorgeous. I'd just gotten it. And all these fans were saying, man, you're wearing Thunder colors. You're wearing Thunder colors.

I said I'm not wearing Thunder colors. This is a sky blue. They're more of a deep blue. But they were like, no, you got to wear black and silver.

MARTIN: You just have a more sophisticated color palate.

SAGER: Yeah, that's true. But, you know, we have fun with it. Some people maybe think it's too outlandish, but I have fun. I buy it all myself. I pick it all out myself. I once in a while get some help from my 7-year-old daughter. Some people might not like it, my 7-year-old, she likes it.

MARTIN: And lastly, what will you be wearing tomorrow night?

SAGER: Let's see. If I go in my closet right now, ha, since you put me on the spot, I will wear this pink, black and yellow checked coat, with a pink, white and black diamond tie, with a pink shirt, black pants and those crocodile shoes with the eyeballs.

MARTIN: Wow. That is a reason, ladies and gentlemen, to tune into Game 5.

SAGER: That will stand out in San Antonio.

MARTIN: Craig Sager is a sideline reporter for the NBA on TNT. He'll be reporting from tomorrow night's Game 5 between the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Craig, thanks so much, really appreciate it.

SAGER: Anytime.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.