Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals did not end favorably for the Miami Heat. An air-conditioning malfunction at AT&T Center, LeBron James’ leg cramps and a dominant fourth quarter from the San Antonio Spurs were all contributing factors to the two-time defending champs’ 110-95 road loss.
Both the four-time MVP and head coach Erik Spoelstra addressed those factors during a Friday press conference.
Spoelstra sits down: "Questions? Crampgate."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 6, 2014
The biggest storyline coming out of Thursday’s game—aside from San Antonio nabbing the win—was the debilitating cramps that kept LBJ sidelined for the majority of the fourth quarter.
This isn’t the first instance in which the 10-time All-Star has dealt with the ailment on the league’s biggest stage. He also suffered from cramps during Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Miami won that game and eventually took the series en route to LeBron's first title.
Still, “King James” made a point to address his body letting him down, per the San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff McDonald and Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick.
LeBron says he's been tested for cause of persistent cramps. "And all the tests come back positive." I think he means negative.— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) June 6, 2014
LeBron says cramping happened a lot in high school.... "I've been tested for it. All my tests came back positive."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 6, 2014
LeBron says his body told him, "that's enough jumping for you for the night."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 6, 2014
LeBron: "I'm disappointed in myself, I'm angry at myself that I couldn't help my team."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 6, 2014
LeBron also spoke about the unorthodox conditions of the arena but maintained that he isn’t making excuses.
LeBron: "It was some extremely conditions. I've never played in an NBA game like it was last night because of the heat."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) June 6, 2014
LeBron: "it's not an excuse, but there were some extreme conditions."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 6, 2014
LeBron: "At one point I looked into the stands and saw every single fan with a fan, double entendre."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) June 6, 2014
Spoelstra added his two cents about the arena’s shoddy conditions stemming from the air-conditioning failure. He also provided insight to how his team’s alpha dog battled the cramps during the game, while James explained the treatment he underwent afterward. Per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst:
Erik Spoelstra said LeBron took 7 "cramping" pills (sodium/electrolyte supplements) during game last night.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 6, 2014
Erik Spoelstra: "It was like playing an NBA basketball game in a hot yoga environment but we're not making excuses."— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 6, 2014
Erik Spoelstra said if the Spurs don't correct the air conditioning there should be a fine. AT&T Center has announced A/C has been fixed.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 6, 2014
LeBron said he got 2.5 bags of IV fluids after the game last night.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 6, 2014
James took plenty of unnecessary and unwarranted criticism via Twitter. Namely from the official account of Gatorade, which took repeated potshots at the Heat star. The company has since apologized for the string of tweets, per The Associated Press (via USA Today).
Still, LeBron refused to acknowledge the company and dismissed the naysayers.
LeBron won't refer to Gatorade by name.... "I'm not going to give them light in the Finals."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 6, 2014
LeBron on Gatorade: "I don't' care. The drink group…I'm not even going to say their name."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) June 6, 2014
LeBron on social media chatter: "Obviously, I hear about it because people tell me about it.... I don't care."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 6, 2014
LeBron: "No worries. You guys can talk about me as much as you want. I'll be there on Sunday. I'm not hiding."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) June 6, 2014
Despite the pain he was dealing with, James was willing to get back on the court during the fourth quarter. He even managed to drive to the bucket and score, but the cramps flared up and prevented him from playing another second.
"I was going to try to give it a go and Spo said no," James said after the game, according to a pool reporter (h/t the Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman).
James noted that he risked a more severe injury had he gone back into the game, a chance that Spoelstra wasn't going to take.
LeBron: "I could have gotten myself in more trouble if I had tried to play through a cramp and I pulled something and it got worse."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 6, 2014
Spoelstra reiterates that he told LeBron "not a chance" when LeBron wanted to return.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 6, 2014
LeBron James said he respected Erik Spoelstra's decision to keep him out of the game.— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) June 6, 2014
With two full days of rest prior to Sunday's Game 2, James will have plenty of time to hydrate and prepare for the next game in the series. The fourth-quarter collapse was a setback, but it's nothing the Heat can't come back from.
Spoelstra also pointed out that Friday will primarily be spent watching film, so James would have been able to get rest regardless. Dwyane Wade noted that a key adjustment in Game 2 could include digging deeper into the roster's second unit.
Spoelstra says LeBron wouldn't have done much today anyway, because today is mostly a film day.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 6, 2014
Wade now suggesting the Heat needs "go a little more into our depth. Said, "We need to be a little smarter."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) June 6, 2014
Dealing with the fallout from Game 1 is obviously a distraction for Miami. As Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk pointed out, though, the Heat have won every playoff series during the Big Three era when losing Game 1. Ironically, the two-time defending champions know a thing or two about adversity.
Thursday played host to one of the most bizarre playoff atmospheres in recent memory, but the Heat can't change the past. They can only focus in on Game 2, and as James said, "I'm not hiding."