It's almost a shame the Utah Jazz didn't wear their throwback uniforms Thursday night.

It would've seemed fitting for them to sport their blast-from-the-past colors and a splash of old-school style with Craig Sager in town.

If you don't know him by name — though he has become a popular sideshow in the NBA these days — you'd probably recognize him by his eye-catching apparel.

"I have fun with it," Sager said.

So much colorful fun that Sager makes rainbows look kinda dull.

His eclectic closet collection looks like it's been attacked by a large box of Crayons and his oft-bright outfits appear to require at least eight D batteries.

"It's easy to see him," Jerry Sloan deadpanned.

It certainly was Thursday.

For the Magic-Jazz game, he sported a black jacket with sparkly pin-stripes, a patterned gold vest and matching coat-pocket hanky, a dark tie with diagonal stripes and — the piece de resistance — some shiny, snazzy gold shoes to bring it all together.

"Cool dude, man. I love to see his outfits," said Jazz rookie Eric Maynor, "just to see what he has on."

Even conservative Jazz coach Jerry Sloan admitted — prior to seeing Thursday's attire, it should be noted — that the wild-dressing sideline reporter usually looks "pretty good."

The reactions to Sager — who is as serious about studying up on athletes, coaches and teams he's covering as he is shopping for show — are not always that positive.

Sager was once compared to a circus act by Phil Jackson, who mockingly told the reporter on live TV that his buttery-colored duds looked like a "Bozo the Clown suit" and were scaring his players.

Kevin Garnett once chided Sager's clothing selection on TNT by saying, "You can't just grab something from the 1970s and try to bring it back."

Another time, Garnett playfully gave Sager a suggestion of what he should do with a different ensemble — it's always a different combo for a particular sport, by the way. The get-up on this night included a pink plaid blazer, a red and white striped shirt, a purple and blue tie with polka dots, and red pants, socks and shoes.

"I am stressing to you," Garnett said in an interview, "you take this and you burn it. ... Just burn it. Don't ask no questions."

Shaquille O'Neal once answered a what-do-you-plan-to-do-to-get-better-type question from a crimson-coat-clad Sager with this response:

"Buy you a new jacket," O'Neal said. "... That's horror-awful. That's horrible and awful mixed together."

Sager traces his funky fashion back to his teenage years in Batavia, Ill., where he went to high school in a small farm town with ex-Denver great Dan Issel and former Cincinnati quarterback Ken Anderson.

"It was just a very dull, boring town," Sager said. "All we did was play basketball."

He spiced things up for his senior picture after being told by the principal that the boys were to only wear navy or black blazers.

Sager dressed up like The Monkees' singer Davey Jones by sporting a Naru jacket — one of those long English coats with big pockets, buttons that go to the top of the neckline, and a short, raised collar.

On another occasion, Sager went to a goodwill thrift store to dress up for a TV job interview in Sarasota, Fla. The only jacket he could find, however, was a yellow, blue and white seersucker.

He bought it, of course.

"I did that for my TV interview and they go, 'You can't wear that on TV. It ruins the cameras,'" Sager recalled, laughing. "I said, 'Why not?'"

He's been saying that ever since — and testing the strength of cameras and his ego while getting razzed by everybody from players, coaches to his TNT crew — during a TV career that dates back to the '70s. Over the years, the former CNN and CBS personality has reported at high-profile events such as the Olympics, NBA and MLB playoffs, and college football.

In other words, the colorful Sager is doing well enough for himself that he no longer shops at thrift stores — even if it sometimes looks like he does.

e-mail: jody@desnews.com