Seems like the heat in San Antonio was a little too much for LeBron James. In case you missed it, the NBA season began its culmination with the championship series tipping off on Thursday night and a broken air conditioner spelled doom for the Miami Heat and the reigning “greatest player in the world.”
LeBron has certainly taken a beating in the media for the cramping that led to his early exit from game one and the subsequent San Antonio Spurs’ victory. I think it’s mostly deserved. After all, if you willingly accept the title of greatest player on the planet then you must take the criticism that comes along with you not performing. Michael Jordan was once the greatest player on the planet and he played through food poisoning. James, on the other hand, had to be helped off the court before the game even ended as temperatures in the AT&T Center reached into the 90’s thanks to that aforementioned broken air conditioner. It was not a pretty sight and one LeBron haters can certainly latch on to as they argue that Kobe Bryant, or whomever, is a better player than the supposed King.
I think the whole thing took away from a nice game by San Antonio which was able to maintain home court advantage and win, despite having to play in the same toasty arena that chased LeBron away. In fact, if I were the Spurs I would have a broken air conditioner for the rest of the series – it may not make their fans happy, but if the heat can keep the Heat’s biggest star off the court, then why not? I’ve never heard of an NBA rule stating the arena must be at a certain temperature. It would be no different than the old MLB groundskeepers who would keep the infield grass either longer or shorter – thus slowing down or speeding up ground balls – depending on the speed of the home team. After all, it is their stadium, they should be able to run it as they please.
Honestly though, the whole LeBron thing was a fun distraction from the real storyline surrounding game one and that’s the story of what just might be the last hurrah for one of the great NBA franchises of the last 20 years. As I write those words I realize how silly they are and also how they could have easily been written last year. In fact, every year the Spurs reach the finals seems to be the last time they are going to get there. But that has not yet been the case.
Yes, San Antonio’s stars – Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker do keep getting older, but that doesn’t seem to stop them from winning and here they are, once again, just three wins from capturing another NBA title. You really have to appreciate the way the Spurs have done things over the past two decades. As teams like the Heat spend, spend, spend on free agents and build super teams, the Spurs have stuck with their core, adding parts as they have needed them and continued to prosper. They may not be the most well-known team in the NBA but for the past 20 years it is hard to argue against them being the most successful on a year-to-year basis. I do not know if they will be able to keep the heat on LeBron and Miami and, if the championship is decided solely on who has the best athletes then the Spurs are probably doomed. However, if the best team wins this year’s NBA title, then the trophy is coming back to San Antonio, whether the air conditioner is working or not.