SAN ANTONIO — The Twitterverse and every other corner of social media might have been making light of the fact that LeBron James had to leave Game 1 of The Finals due to cramps.
But not the Spurs’ 38-year-old Tim Duncan, who has had his own similar experience in the past.
“Yeah, Game 7 against Dallas (in 2006), where I was cramping up the entire, well, the fourth and overtime,” Duncan said on Friday. “Ever since then I’ve just stayed more hydrated than usually, just tried to attack it before it gets to that point. And luckily I’ve had a couple of times where I’ve cramped up since then, but for the most part I’ve been able to stay away from it.”
It was the conference semifinals against the Mavericks and the Spurs were the defending champions at the time. They had fought back from a 3-1 deficit in the series to force Game 7 and Duncan was spectacular. Despite battling cramps, he scored 41 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and handed out six assists, but the Spurs still lost 119-111 to Dallas in overtime.
Duncan says those in the general public who were wondering why James didn’t simply tough it out Thursday night and help get his team to the finish line just don’t understand that for an athlete in that situation, it is far more than waking up in the middle of the night with charley horse in your leg.
“There is no shaking it off,” he said. “Your body is shutting down and you’re unable to move. Whatever is cramping, you’re unable to get away from that. It’s easy to say to shake it off, but once it’s gotten to that point it’s hard to reverse in a short period of time.”