Bud Lights and Blondes: Five Minutes With Craig Sager
Anyone watching NBC's coverage of Olympic basketball has already taken note of the dramatically drab outfits Craig Sager has been wearing. Khaki slacks and sky blue polos, just like all the other NBC employees. This is not the real Craig Sager; this is some sanitized, pre-packaged, metal-detectored, corporate-logoed version of Craig Sager, and I don't like it one bit. Just one more way that Olympic basketball is not like the sport we all know and love.
At the height of my concern over the un-NBA nature of Olympic hoops, I caught up with Sager in a back hallway of the Olympic Basketball Gymnasium to talk cheerleaders, thongs, mini-tramps and
blond blonde fetishes. [UPDATE: I told Craig the goal was humor, and I think it's fair to assume that he was playing along in the text that follows.]
I guess I'm just curious, did you get a chance to look at the dance teams?
What'd you think? I mean, is it like NBA quality?
Well, have you seen the ReD Foxes? Wait to see them. It's the
Lithuanian [Ukrainian] dance team. The blondes?
I don't think you've seen them. You'll notice them. They're hot. No, they're really, REALLY hot. They were very popular in Athens. You know, we're here long days. We got here today at 2, and we'll do a game about a 10:15 start. It's real long day. So our camera guys will focus on the ReD Foxes. They even came out and watched them practice before the competition.
Especially, you know me, I have a blonde fetish, and you don't find many blondes out here. And so when I found out that the Red Foxes were here, I was very, very pleased. Their dance team, the Chinese dance team, doesn't look to me like they've been together long or they've been trained by a U.S. NBA dance team. And I would know, too, because I married one. I married a Luvabull from the Chicago Bulls.
I don't know if I knew that. Wow.
Yeah. I'm the one you should talk to when it comes to evaluating dance teams. I'm the guy....We have long days, long hours here, and there are men's games and women's games. [Pause] I'm glad the Red Foxes are here.
What about the dunking mascots, did you see that?
I see them but I didn't pay much attention, because usually during the timeouts I'm facing away from the court doing my stuff.
The dunking mascots missed all of their dunks off the trampoline.
You're not supposed to miss your dunks off the trampoline.
Well, see, I can give you perspective on that too, because I was [Willie] the Wildcat at Northwestern.
Of course you were.
And back when I did it, the mini tramp was allowed in college, so I would dress up as [Willie] and I used to do all that stuff. I used to carry the mini tramp in the trunk of my car and I'd go to bars and get hammered and take it out and show off, do these flips. And then a Kentucky cheerleader got paralyzed on it, and so it's outlawed in the NCAA, so the only time you see them now is in the NBA.
Could you still do it?
Well, the guy in Utah's always wanted me to do it. And it's something I'd have to practice a little bit before I did it. I do it off the diving board all the time, stuff like that....I haven't been off the mini-tramp. But the guy in Utah wants me to do it, so if I ever get a chance to do a Utah game where I'm out there a couple days ahead of time, so I can get back into form....
That's incredible. What about the fans? Do you think the fans have cheering at the right time down and everything?
Well yeah. There's so many fans from other countries. Like Lithuania, they don't stop cheering for the whole game. And Argentina, you saw how excited they got for the comeback game. And were you here [Saturday] night? The U.S. men's team was here, and the fans just went CRAZY over the Dream Team. Everybody wants to see them. When Kobe came and walked through the aisles? They've got President Bush there, and they could care less; all they wanted was Kobe.
What about you? Do they go after you, the fans?
Some. You know, we're obviously televised everywhere, and so for some people I get recognized. I was over here three years ago doing a lot of stuff with Yao, we did Basketball without Borders, so the hardcore ones do. But it's not like walking the streets of Chicago or Detroit or something.
But they must ask to take pictures. I mean, they ask to take pictures of any tall white guy.
Wait till my bride comes over tomorrow, the former Luvabull.
Why? She's gonna get mobbed you think?
Ohhhhh! Well, she's 21 years younger than me and she's still hot, so....
And what about wearing the outfit? Does it, like, offend your sensibilities?
Oh my God! It's terrible! I've got to wear this little vest bib! I'm getting a lot of grief from the NBA players. You know, 'Where's your sport coat, where's your tie?'
Yeah, do you feel naked or something?
I mean, it's comfortable, but I wish I could liven it up a little bit.
There's no way to accent it at all?
The only thing I can do is have this [belt] and have a matching thong. That's about the only thing I can do.
Do you have a matching thong? [laughing]
Yeah! I'm not going to show it to you though.
You really do? [staring]
Yeah, but I'm not going to show it to you.
Why would you have a matching thong? [horrified]
Because you've gotta be excited!
Does it have to be blue, though?
Yeah. I brought all sorts of different underwear that match my shirt. That's the only thing I can do.
This is the greatest interview, by a longshot, that I've done since I've been in Beijing. Is it hard for you to get as pumped as you would at an NBA game? Because you know, for a lot of [the preceding game] it was pretty quiet out there.
I'm just so used to NBA games where I go anywhere I want. You know, I go in the huddles, I interview the coaches. Here, I'm stuck in that pigpen, so I can't get out, and then I've got to wear this [expletive].
Awesome. So you don't care if I say that you have a blonde fetish?
Oh no. Everybody knows that. EVERYBODY knows that. Bud Light and blondes. So there's a Hooters here, I went to Hooters the other day in Beijing. I've been to probably 250 Hooters across the country and world. It's the only Hooters I've ever been to that didn't have any Bud Light or blondes. I was very disappointed.
[Edited to change "blonds" to "blondes," my bad.]
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