Thursday night, the Miami Heat were beating the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. But during the first quarter of the game the air conditioning system malfunctioned at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. During most of the game, television commentators said the temperature inside the arena was at 90 degrees or a little more. It greatly affected Miami’s superstar LeBron James, causing him to have severe leg cramps. Twice he asked coach Erik Spoelstra to take him out of the game for rest, which is something players rarely ask. With less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, James dunked the ball to tie the game. When he landed, it jarred his cramped leg and caused it to stiffen so badly that he couldn’t walk and had to be carried off the court. No longer able to play, he had to suffer psychologically as he watched the Spurs take over the game to finish the score at San Antonio 110, Miami 95. It was a very discouraging blow to Miami, the defending NBA Champions. Watching the game on TV, the cameramen kept showing us the fans fanning themselves with programs and the like to better beat the heat.
Maybe I’m just skeptical, but I think a gambler could have placed a big bet on the San Antonio Spurs for that game and sabotage the Miami Heat by taking out that air conditioning. I thought of this during the end of the game. I was surprised that after the game, apparently neither NBA officials, players, coaches, nor the media mentioned this possibility and still haven’t as far as I know. I thought the San Antonio Spurs’ response was lame, saying the AC became “non-operational” without giving any further explanation. Later, NBA Commissioner Adam Silverman explained that a breaker switch malfunctioned and the AT&T Center maintenance crew said they couldn’t replace it at the time because they didn’t know what that would further cause. I guess they meant the lights might go out or some such thing.
The very least that should have been done was for the owner of the Center to publically apologize to the Miami Heat, let alone the NBA. Bexar County owns the AT&T Center. On Friday Laura Jesse, spokesperson for Bexar County, referred all questions to the Spurs management company, Spurs Sports and Entertainment. But its two executives did not return media phone messages. CPS Energy, the San Antonio utility that has workers on duty at all Spurs games, also did not respond to questions on Friday.
Many people responded to the situation by saying both teams had to experience it, so it was fair for all. I think that is very short-sighted. Everyone agrees LeBron James is “the greatest basketball player on the planet.” If he can’t play, San Antonio has a big advantage. LeBron has a history of leg cramps. He had them during Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Leg cramps can happen especially when an athlete gets dehydrated. James said after the game Thursday night that he had taken care of his body, meaning he wasn’t dehydrated before the game. As it turned out, the San Antonio Spurs fans saying, “Beat the Heat,” had more than one meaning. Early in the game, we saw and heard LeBron James come out of the game, plop on the Miami bench very tired-looking, and say about the high room temperature, “They’re tryin’ to smoke us out.”
There are other factors. Many of the best Spurs players are very used to heat. Allstar center Tim Duncan was born and reared in the Virgin Islands. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Boris Diaw are from southern Europe. They say they played a lot of basketball there where they don’t have air conditioning. They all said that because of that, they are used to playing in such temperatures.
What about LeBron James? Is he used to high temperatures? He was born and reared in Akron, Ohio. That’s very cold country in the wintertime. People who live in Ohio are not used to hot temperatures. During LeBron’s NBA career, he played seven years for the Cleveland Cavaliers and now four years for the Miami Heat. Yes, he has a home in Miami, but he’s got a huge compound home in Akron. LeBron James plays for the Miami Heat, but I don’t think he literally can take the heat. Thursday night proved what I’m saying. My point is that with the air conditioning going out, thereby sending the temperature in the arena into the 90s, that would physically affect LeBron James negatively more than other NBA players, maybe a lot more.
LeBron James has been a somewhat controversial figure in recent years in American sports. Great things were expected of him as a pro basketball player standing 6 feet 8 inches, weighting 250 pounds, and just being one big solid muscle. He moves across the basketball floor on a fast break like a locomotive at full speed. Because he never won an NBA championship at Cleveland, a lot of NBA fans criticized him. Then he became a free agent and accepted an offer by the Miami Heat. That caused a lot more fans and many NBA players and retired players, such as “the mouth” and television commentator Charles Barkley, to criticize him for not remaining loyal to the Cleveland Cavaliers. I like to listen to Barkley, but I thought that criticism was unjustified. Professional basketball is a business, not a social club. But in a televised ceremony in which the Miami Heat welcomed their new superstar, LeBron foolishly and excitedly predicted to his teammate Dwayne Wade and attending fans that the new Miami Heat would win several NBA championships. From then on, many basketball fans and others characterized LeBron James as very arrogant.
So, take that into consideration when lots of fans Thursday night, including some of the TV commentators, ridiculed LeBron when he stood courtside grabbing his leg, waving to his coaches on the other end of the floor, and saying he couldn’t walk and had to be carried off. As if to say, “tough it out, baby.” Talk about lame! Criticizing that is the real lame–in the head–instead LeBron James cramping up to get lame. At least Tim Duncan nobly came to LeBron’s defense in an after-game interview.
Yeah, I’m from Texas, but I’m not fond of the San Antonio Spurs. They’ve had some expert floppers. Tim Duncan’s stare at rules officials. You name it. But suggestions that they might have purposely knocked out the AC are ridiculous.
So, back to the gambler idea. What do we know about the security of the air conditioning systems in these pro sports arenas, namely, the AT&T Center right before the 2014 NBA Finals started? I can envision some employee having the wherewithal to sabotage the game by doing something to that breaker switch. Or somebody could have paid him off to do it. There may be other possible scenarios. I think its the responsibility of the NBA commissioner to look into it and make sure it didn’t happen. Maybe undertake some sort of investigation by requiring maintenance crew members or higher ups to take lie detector tests, check their phone calls the past few days, etc. As an NBA fan, I think more ought to be done than just an explanation that a breaker switch the size of a car battery malfunctioned. I want to know why it malfunctioned. Has it been checked for fingerprints?
Like I said, maybe I’m just skeptical, but ………….!