After beloved NBA reporter Craig Sager died and left a gaping hole in the basketball universe, he was honored Thursday night in utterly perfect fashion.
Just before tipoff of a national televised game between the Warriors and Knicks a game that, in an alternate timeline, Sager may well have worked Warriors coach Steve Kerr called both his team and the Knicks to center court and addressed the crowed.
Sager became a luminary of the basketball world in a way few reporters ever do. His gentle sense of humor and lack of self-seriousness were what truly made him a treasure even though it was his loud, often garish suits that made the biggest initial impression. Sager’s fight and optimism became an inspiration after he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014.
“As many of you know, today is a very sad day in the NBA. We lost a dear friend and a big part of the leagues soul with the passing of Craig Sager,” Kerr began in his pregame address to a national television audience Thursday night.
The entire 80-second speech was a moving tribute but it’s what happened at the end that stands out most.
Kerr ended his tribute like this: “While we considered a moment of silence, we thought it would be more appropriate, given the way Craig lived his life and the joy he brought to so many people, to have a moment of joy instead. So Id like all of you to join me in an applause for a great man and a life well lived.
With that, Oracle Arena’s sellout crowd of nearly 20,000 fans erupted in more than 30 seconds of applause for Sager and what he meant to the game. There were yells, there were whistles. All in all, what Kerr called the “moment of joy” was a far more fitting tribute than a somber silence would have been for someone possessing Sager’s excitement about life.
Here’s video of the remarkable two-minutes.
So, just one thought: Can we make this more of a thing, please? More of a way to remember the people who brought us great happiness before they passed away?
In some cases, of course, it won’t be appropriate. No one’s advocating a wholesale replacement for the moment of silence here. But in this case, the “moment of joy” was pitch-perfect.
Here’s hoping it catches on more. We need all the glimmers we can get.