Everyone is a critic, and LeBron James is currently taking poisonous arrows aimed at him for not finishing game 1 of the NBA Finals, leaving the Miami Heat to crumble in the fourth quarter. Maybe James missed an opportunity to join a line of some legendary games of players in the finals while playing injured, but the simple fact is that he couldn’t stay on the floor.
Cramps might not be the most serious of injuries and go away as quickly as they arrived, but it’s almost impossible to play through them, especially the serious kind. James tried getting back on the floor but after making a layup that put the Heat back within two points of the Spurs, he simply couldn’t get back on defense and had to be taken off the floor. No matter who much of a warrior a player is, it was clear to see the pain was too much for him, and being on the floor actually hurt his team, not helped.
So James didn’t have himself a flu game like Michael Jordan, or an Achilles moment like Kobe Bryant (which made no difference to anyone) or even the limp from Willis Reed. He didn’t have a choice, and although obviously feeling disappointed about his body “failing” him at a huge moment, there’s not anything he could have done. Cramps happened to him in the NBA Finals before and it ended up being a win.
James, despite not consuming too much media during the NBA playoffs, something he has decided to do since the 2011 NBA Finals, couldn’t completely block himself from the jokes, criticism and the usual choir preaching about everything wrong about LeBron James, which don’t care about the past or present, but only waiting for the failure of a four-time MVP and two-time NBA champion.
Maybe James didn’t drink enough before the game? Maybe he didn’t eat enough bananas? Who knows, and frankly, it doesn’t really matter. James isn’t someone who has proven to fail in big moments with this team on a consistent basis. A fourth consecutive final, an opportunity to make it a three-peat; he must be doing something right, and getting overtaken by his muscles failing him isn’t exactly an ordinary occurrence in his life or playing style.
The Heat didn’t lose because of air conditioning. They lost because their best player went down, and those left to try and hold the fort failed at basic basketball plays, leading to a complete and utter collapse. But it’s a whole new ball game and a new chance for James and the Heat to erase that fourth quarter and those mistakes and run of bad luck from the first game. From what we saw in the first 40 minutes of that game, they’re more than capable of doing that.