Sports Illustrated put Craig Sager on its cover this week, and the legendary sideline reporter tells a doozy of a Dennis Rodman story.

Sager says that he had a chat with a distraught Rodman about not blowing his brains out twenty-three years ago at a Detroit stripclub.

Sager remains upbeat about the state of his own health:

He should be perched on a barstool next to his wife, Stacy—a former Bulls dancer 21 years his junior—regaling strangers with a story about Dennis Rodman, who went AWOL from the Pistons in 1993 and planned to commit suicide, until Sager tracked down the Worm on the second floor of a Detroit strip club. “The Landing Strip,” Sager recalls. “He had the gun. He was going to do it. I told him how stupid that would be.”

 

Sager still lives outside Atlanta, but he spends most of his time at the Marriott Medical Center in Houston, where he is in the midst of a clinical trial. Friends freaked in March when Sager told HBO’s Real Sports he had been given three-to-six months to live, but that was the prognosis for a patient without treatment, and he is receiving the best care available. “A patient who battles this past a year is amazing,” says his doctor, Naveen Pemmaraju. “What he’s done is almost miraculous.”

 

Sager writes the names and numbers of everyone who calls him on three-by-five index cards. He walks around with a stack. Rodman calls all the time. Karl Malone called. Phil Mickelson called. “I don’t really even know Phil Mickelson,” Sager says. “The response is so surprising to me.” It is not surprising to LeBron or Silver or Chris Paul, who has introduced Sager to his parents and in 2013 asked him to appear in one of his Jordan Brand commercials. “He gives everything realness,” Paul says. At some point Sager became part of the league’s fabric, double silk to be sure.

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