All throughout game one of the NBA Finals last night, we were treated to a commentary about how hot it was in the AT&T Center due to the broken air conditioning system. It was forced upon us as a storyline – we had to wonder about how it would affect substitution patterns, players’ shot-making abilities, their ability to even catch the ball, et cetera – consistently and irritatingly hyped up as being a key factor on account of basically just being a novelty.
And then it actually was a key factor when the normally unquestioned hardiness of LeBron James exited the game with a cramp.
Now, we are being treated to a discourse about that cramp. It is going to be wildly overwrought. Everything LeBron does is overwrought, especially anything that can be perceived as a weakness. James left the game with 4:33 left to go, and did not return, the absolutely undeniably pivotal moment that swung the game. And, obviously, there has to be something wrong with this.
LeBron is not hardy enough. He has had cramps before and should have taken necessary precautions. He should have drunk more water, gotten massages at every opportunity, Ray Allen managed, and all that standard fare. Most of which misses the most important issue here.
Cramp really, really, really hurts.
It does, and we must not overlook this. I imagine it especially hurts when you’re that big, and when you run and jump for a living like an NBA player does. As someone who is quite prone to night cramps in the calves for reasons that have yet to be determined, I find when I have a cramp that I cannot stand up without significant pain (not just discomfort, but pain) for the best part of the next day. Sometimes for two days, no matter how much it gets massaged or how much fluid I drink. It hurts like hell at the time, and then it lingers, not hurting at all when there is no weight on the leg but then sending shooting pains up your leg the second I do, something I had forgotten was going to happen, sneaking up on me like a ninja pain.
Maybe I’m just a big girly wuss who is reaping what he’s sown from a lifetime of not looking after himself. Certainly, LeBron James and all NBA players need to take infinitely better care of themselves than I do. But the point remains the same – cramp takes you down. It poleaxes you. There are things you can do to prevent it, yet sometimes, you just overextend yourself and it happens. He could have drunk water like a camel in there last night and it still might have happened. Sometimes, it just does. And when it does, we’re kidding ourselves if we think it’s an easy one to play through.
The fact LeBron seemed to want us all to know about it, through his actions at the time and his subsequent comments about it (the man spends his entire life acting as though there is a camera on him, because……well, there is) does not really matter here. Something would have to really, really hurt for the best player in the world to miss the final 4:33 of an incredibly, close road game.
And he had cramp. So we know that it did.