Craig Sager Receives Warm Welcome Back, Standing Ovation After Long Battle With Cancer

03/06/2015 10:03 am ET | Updated Mar 06, 2015
Randy Belice via Getty Images

Well-loved TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager received a warm welcome for his return Thursday night after an 11-month absence during which he fought cancer.

"It was a long 11-months," Sager, notably slimmer, said on TNT ahead of the Chicago Bulls 108-105 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

"I'm very grateful for my health and the fact that I am back," he said. "I feel great."

The popular sideline reporter had been diagnosed with leukemia last year and received a bone marrow and cell transplant from his son, Craig Sager Jr. It was announced last month that he would return March 5.

Sager received a standing ovation from the crowd as the Bulls played a video tribute in the United center and presented him with signature jacket in Bulls' red and black.

By the end of the first quarter, Sager was back in familiar ground, interviewing Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.

Many fans held up signs showing their support for the reporter and ahead of the game, TNT's "Inside the NBA" played a short clip featuring Russell Westbrook, Gregg Popovich, Dwyane Wade, Mark Cuban welcoming Sager back, and many more shared congratulations on Twitter and Instagram.

Miss you very much Craig!!!!! Welcome back and can't to see u. Been to long. #SwagChamp Haha!

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Following the game, Sager said he had some jitters about his return.

"You're a little nervous. I've done it before but everything's a little different," he said, according to ESPN.

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