Seeing Red: The heat is on, LeBron

Gilroy Dispatch Sports Editor

Sometimes, it’s not good to be the king.
The Internet exploded last night during after LeBron James left Game 1 of the NBA Finals with just over three minutes left due to a leg cramp. The Spurs went on to win 110-95. It’s not the first time in his career he’s cramped up during the playoffs and with temperatures reaching upwards of 90 degrees inside the AT&T Center in San Antonio, it’s not shocking that the heat (so much pun) would affect him. But as someone who’s trying to cement his legacy in the league, James is sure making it easy for his critics to discredit him.
“It was an unusual circumstance; I never played in a building like that,” James said following the game. “It was extremely hot in the building. Everybody could feel it, I was the one who had to take the shot.”
While everyone could certainly feel the heat, it seems others were better suited to handle it. Ray Allen said it was “right in my wheelhouse”, while Chris Bosh reminisced about playing in gyms without air conditioning during his high school days in Texas. Tony Parker said the game reminded him of playing in the European Championship on a continent where there is rarely AC at all.
In other words, these guys are used to it.
For the first time in my life, I might be able to sympathize with James. He’s a MidWesterner, like me—we’re not exactly used to conditions like that. Basketball season, like the rest of the country, is played during the winter when it’s nice and cold. I’ve covered games where I kept my jacket, scarf, hat and gloves on during while reporting because the gym will feel like an ice box.
In my brief athletic career, I played soccer and I cheered in the sweltering heat. I’ve cramped up, too. But I got some fluids, shook it off and got back down to business. It’s easier said than done, but the point is it can be done.
But I’m not LeBron James. I’m not one of the biggest athletes in the world. I’m not the person the sports world keeps its eyes on, waiting with bated breath to screw up. I haven’t made myself out to be some sort of Superman. I think it’s obvious that my sympathy for him ends here.
Celebrity and fame come with a price and this, ladies and gentlemen, is the proof of that. You can’t have your cake—$19-plus million dollars of salaried cake that is—and eat it, too. The greatest of the great have always been under a microscope, been scrutinized and compared over and over against their predecessors and they’ve all been able to rise above all of that. Life for James is no different. (Cue the comparisons to Michael Jordan’s flu game.)
This is life in the spotlight. This is James’ chance to prove his haters wrong once again and continue building his legacy as one of the NBA’s greatest.
I’m one of those haters, I’ll freely admit it. I don’t want the Heat to repeat. I’ve jumped on the Spurs bandwagon and I’m holding on for dear life. But I also know that James—and last night’s game is proof—is only human. All any of us want to do prove our critics wrong and show we can do what they said we can’t.
The ball is in your court now, LeBron.
“So since LeBron got another lower leg cramp I guess you can say that The Calves are keeping him from winning another title” — @Ke7chum
“For being what, 6’8’ 240, LeBron really is delicate little flower.” — @BisonStarsSpurs
“With a game this hot, we’re right at home. #WinFromWithin #NBAFinals” — @Gatorade
“LeBron, I deal with cramps once a month and still go to work!” — @haley_g