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Coloring the Sidelines, the Many Suits of Craig Sager

On Saturday night, the NBA semifinals notched yet another thriller as the Oklahoma City Thunder resisted a late push by the San Antonio Spurs. The series is now even at 2-2.

Thunder star Kevin Durant's fourth-quarter heroics were a spectacle — but just as mesmerizing was the man patrolling the sidelines in a pearly white jacket, blue shirt, and fire-truck red pants.

That would be Craig Sager, TNT's go-to sideline reporter for NBA games. His outlandish outfits have made him an iconic part of the NBA on TV.

Take his famous getup from the 2009 All-Star Game: a pink, checked suit jacket over a red-and-white striped shirt with a blue-and-red tie, all bottomed off by red pants, socks, and shoes. It was garish even by his standards, and Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics afterward told him to burn it.

Occasionally, his clothes are even a technical issue. At the 2001 All-Star Game, Sager wore a black and silver double-silk Versace jacket. It was flashy — literally. At certain angles, the jacket reflected light at the cameras, so at halftime, TNT asked him to change.

"It illuminated, and they said it looked like the sun screen you put in the dashboard of your car in the summer to reflect the sun," he told Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin.

Sager is on the road reporting from the Spurs-Thunder series for TNT, and when asked to describe his style, he walked to his closet and described three pairs of shoes he was considering for his next outfit.

"I've got a pair of black alligator shoes. They actually have the eyeballs in them," he said. "I've got another pair next to them, these are crocodile. Then I've got a pair of ostrich."

More generally, Sager's simply attracted to bright colors and patterns. Maybe, he said, there's just something in his personality. But there's a practical element to that, too.

"It helps to spot me in the audience when my camera guys are looking for me to do interviews," he explained.

Sager is though to miss on the sidelines between the bright colors and outlandish jackets. And his wardrobe selections frequently draw comments from players, coaches, and — most often — the fans.

"Earlier in the series I was in San Antonio, and I had on this blue coat that I thought was gorgeous. I'd just gotten it," he said. "All these fans were saying, 'Man, you're wearing Thunder colors!'"

"I said, 'I'm not wearing Thunder colors. This is a sky blue. They're more of a deep blue.'"

Sager's impervious to the ire, though.

"Some people maybe think it's too outlandish, but I have fun," he explained. "I buy it all myself. I pick it all out myself. I once in a while get some help from my seven-year-old daughter. Some people might not like it; my seven-year-old, she likes it."

When asked what he'd be wearing for Monday night's Game 5 between the Spurs and Thunder, Sager walked over to his closet and chose an outfit right then.

"Since you put me on the spot, I will wear this pink, black and yellow checked coat, with a pink, white and black diamond tie, with a pink shirt, black pants and those crocodile shoes with the eyeballs," he said. "That will stand out in San Antonio."

Sager will be on hand for the rest of the series between the Thunder and the Spurs. He and the rest of the TNT crew will report from Game 5 Monday night in San Antonio.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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