#TheCramp: Why It’s Absurd To Suggest Cramps Will Affect LeBron’s Legacy

LeBron James cramps

In the social media, Twitter-obsessed, 24-7 news cycle age we live in, every single move a high-profile athlete does gets scrutinized. LeBron James is no exception.

After James went to the bench during the final 4:33 of Game 1 of the NBA Finals with the Miami Heat down 2, the San Antonio Spurs embarked on a 16-3 run to close out the game — and the win — to take an early 1-0 lead in the series.

We all wondered where LeBron was in the fourth quarter as the Spurs surged back into the game, then a cameraman delivered us the answer: sitting in agonizing discomfort on the bench, with the world’s best basketball player looking somewhat defeated, both physically and mentally.

In an attempt to overcome the pain, LeBron trotted back on the floor. He made a layup but was frozen underneath the net, unable to move, looking helpless as the other nine players raced to the other side of the court.

That’s a four-time MVP, two-time NBA champion. If he can’t move, something is wrong.

LeBron was helped back to the bench and eventually the locker room. His coach, Erik Spoeltra, said in his post-game press conference that LeBron tried to return to the court before Spoelstra refused to let his star even think about it. Instead, James was helped to the locker room and eventually needed an IV to treat the cramps.

Athletes and analysts alike have offered their take on LeBron’s cramps, including ESPN NBA analyst Mark Jackson, who was a part of the broadcast in San Antonio last night, as well as Spoelstra.

Even Gatorade weighed in.

I’m not the biggest fan of LeBron James, but there’s no doubt I respect him, and I believe he tried to return to the court to play through his cramps to leave every last ounce of perseverance he had left to try and help his team. Physically, though, it was too much. It was too much for arguably the world’s best athlete. So for all of the people who are criticizing James for not being on the floor, I dare you to take a walk in James’ shoes.

Because of the NBA Finals schedule, James has two days of rest between Games 1 and 2, and I expect a healthy, rejuvenated James to return to the AT&T Center on Sunday night more determined than ever. He loves nothing more than to silence his naysayers, who have been able to come out of hiding — finally — for the first time since the 2011 Finals.

#TheCramps will be the topic of sports talk radio and “SportsCenter” and Twitter until Sunday night. It’s inevitable. There will be those who will blame James for the Heat’s Game 1 loss. There will be people who defend him.

Thankfully Spoelstra refused to allow LeBron to give it a second go Thursday night, because he could’ve risked an even more serious injury and further damaged his team’s chance of a three-peat. The blame should not fall on James or the AT&T Center air conditioning, but on the cast of players named Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen, Hall of Fame-bound players who crumbled without James to right the ship.

Oh, and give the Spurs some credit. They have some Hall of Fame players on their squad, too, and they picked up their game late and played flawlessly down the stretch. They are the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, by the way, and they have arguably the best coach in the league.

The Heat are down 0-1 in the series, but expect a healthy LeBron James back for Game 2. And expect a very LeBron-esque type of effort Sunday. Then again, the critics can go into hiding, at least until the NBA Finals have run its course.

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Sam Spiegelman
Sam Spiegelman is a native New Yorker covering sports in New Orleans. He likes Game of Thrones way too much. Tweet him @samspiegs.