Craig Sager, sadly, is no longer in remission, announcing Tuesday that his cancer has returned. This is third time the 64-year-old has battled leukemia since he was originally diagnosed in 2014.
“It’s something that we’ve been following for two years now,” Turner Sports host Ernie Johnson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It’s been an incredible fight. You’re encouraged in one moment when you see him come back on the air, and it’s very tough. I know the Real Sports folks came by my house the other day to talk to me about what Craig has been through and it’s just very tough.”
Johnson, 59, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2003, so he can relate to what Sager is feeling.
“He’s been through a fight that very few folks who have had cancer have gone through,” Johnson said. “The treatments that he’s endured and the fight that he’s shown has been something.”
Johnson, of course, hosts Inside the NBA on TNT, which has won numerous Emmy Awards, and is involved with March Madness coverage. His broadcasts focus on basketball but aren’t afraid to go in other directions.
It took time for Johnson to be completely comfortable with that.
“I used to (worry) a little bit but not so much anymore,” he said. “I think the show kind of evolved to a place where it was acceptable to kind of go off the beaten path a little bit. I think the first few times it happened back in the early 2000s, I was like, ‘Wow, can we do this?’ I guess the response from people kind of indicated, yeah, we can do it – that if a game we’re covering that particular night isn’t really that compelling, it’s okay to talk about anything else. So it’s kind of worked. And you know what? We all come at the game from such different angles and everybody’s got a different background, but everybody is still really themselves. That’s why I think it works with me, Kenny and Chuck and on the NBA side when Shaq is with us.”
Johnson, who also covers Major League Baseball on TBS, is excited that the NCAA championship will be on cable for the first time in its 78 history. Even better, TBS is broadcasting it.
“It’s huge for us,” Johnson said. “It really is, guys. Everybody at TBS is very excited about that. We knew this day would come. We didn’t know exactly when it was going to happen when we reached the agreement with CBS and Turner to put all the games on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. I don’t know who came up with that idea, but it was brilliant. I think for basketball fans, while they may have (doubted) it originally, it’s got to be almost unanimous that people love the fact that every game is on somewhere where you can watch it and not have to hope, ‘Oh, I hope CBS cuts into this game because I’d like to see how my team is doing.’ I think it’s really been great, and to have the nets cut down and ‘One Shining Moment’ on TBS this year, it’s just awesome.”