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While the teams’ uniforms can get colorful on the court, they are nothing compared to the rainbow of Technicolor shades and elaborate patterns that Turner sports reporter Craig Sager wears to liven up the sidelines during March Madness.
Known as the brightest man in basketball, the longtime commentator has become as famous for his flashy suits as his witty postgame interviews, and he promised The Hollywood Reporter that his wardrobe will live up to all expectations for the rest of the network’s coverage of the NCAA tournament.
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“I was packing yesterday and thinking, ‘What am I going to wear?’ ” he pondered before Thursday night’s matchups, including Baylor vs. Wisconsin and Arizona vs. San Diego State. “There are so many teams with red in them — they call it crimson, vermilion … but they’re all red.” So rather than shutting out green-hued Baylor fans, he opted for “a blue, white and brown checked coat and a blue shirt.
“I will liven things up for the [regional finals], as whoever wins that goes to the Final Four,” he explains. “So I had a jacket handmade with sparkles and crystals on it, and then an Armani tie with Swarovski stones sewn into it to catch the light on Saturday night,” he boasts. “I get more lively this weekend and build up to it — the bigger the event, the brighter the clothes!”
Color-coordinating with the teams — for college basketball and football, NBA, baseball and even horse racing — is a constant challenge for the 62-year-old Sager, who has been a fashionista his whole life.
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“I think it is ingrained in me. I grew up in Batavia, Ill., in the middle of corn fields,” he tells THR. “Even for our high school photo, when we were told to wear boring black or navy, I turned up in an electric-blue jacket with white collars inspired by The Monkees, and they were forced to print the picture because it was such a small town.”
Sager’s flair for the dramatic took off as a weatherman in Florida before hitting the road for CNN and Turner Broadcasting as a sideline reporter. “Whatever city I was in and whatever time of year, I wore clothes to reflect that and have fun with it. Now it has taken on a story of its own, but I don’t do it to attract attention — it’s just me.
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“I wouldn’t feel comfortable coming out in black or gray. I always wear bright colors,” he says, adding that his style is somewhat seasonal. “If I am doing a game in Brooklyn in January, I am not going to wear the fuchsia that I do in Miami in April. In L.A., I don’t have any limits. I wear a lot of pinks, bright pastels and experiment a lot, but I always try not to offend anyone by wearing the other teams’ colors.”
It’s not just with shocking shades that Sager likes to make an impression — he also loves to bedazzle the audience whenever he can!
“A lot of times, I have an idea about what I want to wear, and I can’t find it, so I have it made,” says the resourceful man, who buys accessories and material from home stores such as Michaels and then gets them added to his outfits. “During the beginning rounds of the tournament, I wore a ‘bracket’ tie. I had it made last year but wore it again, and no one remembered. It was a good talking piece.”
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Shopping for new steals is all part of the fun for Sager, who is a fan of Neiman Marcus and has local shops in every city that he hits up when he lands in town. “I have a huge array of places to choose from in Atlanta, and I go to a fabric shop in Miami. When it comes to patterns, I like a swirl, not necessarily a paisley. There is one tie that I got recently that has a total of 25 colors. It’s my new favorite because it goes with everything.”
Footwear is equally as important. “I have as much fun with my shoes as anything,” says Sager. “There’s a place in Atlanta called Friedman’s Shoes. They have every kind of animal, including ostrich, crocodile, alligator and snake. I was friends with Steve Irwin [The Crocodile Hunter], and when he was killed, I got a pair of stingray shoes as revenge. The eel shoes are amazing too, as they are really soft.”
Needless to say, Sager has a number of large and overflowing closets, with his wife, Stacy, only getting a fraction of the wardrobe space. “I have over 200 sport coats, 100 shoes and three closets. … My wife has about 10 percent of space,” he admits.
Check out Sager’s latest majestic fashion choices when March Madness airs on TNT, TBS and TruTV tonight and throughout the weekend. Games also air on CBS and CBS Sports, leading up to the Final Four on April 5-7.
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