Through popularity and sickness, Craig Sager was always humble, hard-working reporter …….

Craig Sager was always in on the joke. That’s what you liked about him. He was the guy that found the proper balance between taking his job seriously but never himself. The kind of person you wanted to be around.

That’s why Sager worked so well with Marv Albert and Charles Barkley, the resident wise guys at Turner Sports who made Sager and his colorful outfits the butt of the countless jokes for nearly two decades.

When Howard Cosell was at the height of his popularity, having him and ABC’s Monday Night Football in your city meant it was a big event. Sager and his wardrobe did the same for the NBA and TNT on Thursday’s.

Craig Sager always took his job seriously, earning respect of his peers and around the NBA.

We were seated next to each other in Boston nearly 10 years when an irate Knicks fan – is there any other kind? – threw his jersey onto the court once the Celtics extended their lead to 50. Sager looked at me, smiled, and said that it may be a while “before the Knicks are back on TNT again.”

Sports world reacts to the loss of TNT’s NBA reporter Craig Sager

“He understood that the job was about entertainment and presentation,” said his long-time colleague and friend Scooter Vertino. “Craig never lost sight of that.”

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NBA players show their appreciation for Sager at the ESPY awards earlier this year. (CHRIS PIZZELLO/CHRIS PIZZELLO/INVISION/AP)

Vertino was a field producer when he first met Sager 21 years ago, a kid trying to make a name in the business while learning from an established reporter. Read more here :