VIDEO: GameTime: LeBron report
SAN ANTONIO – There is cool air pumping through the AT&T Center, site of The 2014 Finals again this weekend. And LeBron James is confident he’ll be playing in Game 2 Sunday when the series resumes, his Miami Heat club down 1-0 to the San Antonio Spurs.
But that doesn’t mean James has moved on yet from the cramps that derailed him down the stretch in Game 1. He was achy and exhausted when he met with the media Friday, a non-practice day for the Heat but particularly an off day for James.
“I’m pretty sore right now just from the muscles spasming up and they’re starting to release, but I’m pretty sore in my legs,” James said early Friday afternoon. “What I went through the last twelve hours was getting up and using the restroom a lot. I got two-and-a-half bags of IV last night right after the game. So between 2 a.m. and 11 a.m. I got up about six or seven times. So obviously I got no sleep.”
As James spoke in a makeshift interview room at the Spurs’ practice facility on the outskirts of town, there still were about 54 hours to go before tipoff of Game 2 Sunday night. It sounded as if James planned to use every one of them in his rest and re-hydration.
He initially joked playfully that he might have to sit the next one out, but quickly swatted away his own set-up lest someone take it wrong and add to the criticism that already had come his way.
“No, I’ll be all right,” James said. “I should be 100 percent on Sunday. … Training staff said I should take it light today. Give the body another day to recover, tomorrow I should be back on my feet full go, and I got all day Sunday to get ready for Sunday night. Don’t worry, you guys can talk about me as much as you want. I’ll be there on Sunday as well. I’m not hiding.”
The electrical system responsible for the cooling system in the Spurs arena had failed sometime before tipoff, zapping the AC while permitting the lights to burn (the Spurs announced Friday it had been repaired). That led quickly to a warm building that grew more stifling as the game played on.
Several players on both sides said Friday they still felt drained or fatigued nearly 15 hours later. James referred to it as “extreme conditions,” and said he noticed during warm-ups the building’s unusually hot temperature.
“I felt it get a little warm. And I actually sat on the scorer’s table for 10 minutes and stopped warming up, so I could cool down a little bit,” he said.
By the start of the second half, James had changed his uniform, had maxed out his fluids intake and still was feeling the ill effects. He subbed out sooner after halftime and then locked up completely after his driving layup with 4:09 left. His left leg cramped up and wouldn’t let him move. Miami, up 94-92, got outscored 16-3 the rest of the way.
James finished with 25 points on 8-of-12 shooting with four rebounds and six assists, but then, he didn’t didn’t exactly finish. He hobbled back to the locker room to begin treatment before the final horn.
“My body just shut down,” he said. “Basically my body said, ‘Okay, enough jumping for you for the night. You’ve had enough.’ Nothing I could do about it.”
James has gone through this before.
The Heat star has dealt with this before, most famously in Game 4 of The 2012 Finals against Oklahoma City. It has given him a layman’s expertise, far more experience and knowledge of cramping than he’d prefer to have.
“I’ve been very preventative,” James said. “This happened to me a few times. Happened to me a lot in high school. I have been tested for it; all the tests came back positive. So we’re always up on it, and stay ahead of the curve, and [Game 1] was one of those nights.
“The body just decides to shut down. I mean, I hydrated as much as I could to the point where your stomach feels like it just can’t take anymore. Last night it just got to a point where the body just had enough, just dehydrated. Between jumping and running and cutting and sweating and a little bit of everything, exhaustion, you know, the body just hit the shutdown. … You know, it’s frustrating for sure, but nothing I can do about it.”
Someone suggested that James might be endorsing the wrong sports drink or wearing the wrong accessories, given the extreme heat and toll it took on the players’ bodies. He preferred not to get sidetracked from the challenge of getting primed and healthy.
“I’m here to win a championship, you know,” James said. “And obviously I’m conscious about the things that I endorse, but that’s not in the forefront of my mind.”
As for his on-court style and its contribution to heat retention, James said: “I actually don’t wear a lot of [stuff]. I wear a pair of tights, underwear, jersey and shorts, socks and shoes and a headband, arm sleeve.
“Compared to my teammate D‑Wade, he looks like a football player compared to me.”