Craig Sager had some business to tend to before broadcasting his first NBA Finals game. In Cleveland, the reporter FaceTimed with University of Pittsburgh running back James Conner, a recent cancer survivor.
Sager, working as he faces a recurrence of the leukemia he has battled for the past few years, spent about a minute with Conner, the 2014 ACC player of the year, who was recently declared cancer-free after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma on Thanksgiving Day 2015.
Conner's mentor and family friend Mike Gallagher was shooting Game 6 of the Finals for WJET in Conner's hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania, and said he was chatting before the game with Sager, whom Gallagher said was familiar with Conner's story and asked if he could call the football player.
Sager, a 34-year Turner veteran and popular sideline reporter known for his eccentric suits, was working his first Finals game Thursday thanks to a unique partnership with ESPN.
After asking James several questions about the game and his 41-point performance, Sager congratulated him on the victory.
"First of all, let me ask you a question," James said with a wide grin. "How in the hell do you go 30-plus years without getting a Finals game? That don't make no sense."
Decked out in one of his trademark colorful suits, this one a black number with blue and silver flowers, Sager beamed as James continued his salute.
"I'm happy to see you, man," James said. "Much love and respect. I'm happy I was able to witness it in front of these fans. We really appreciate you."
Sager replied, "Thanks for entertaining me."
ESPN will present Sager with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at The 2016 ESPYS on July 13.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.