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LeBron James leaves Game 1 of NBA Finals due to cramps

Jun 6, 2014, 12:00 AM EDT

LeBron James LeBron James

LeBron James stood frozen like a statue.

Earlier in the fourth quarter, LeBron missed a couple jumpers and asked out of Game 1 of the NBA Finals. He appeared to be cramping, no doubt due to the heat in San Antonio’s arena. I wasn’t sure he’d return.

But he re-entered three minutes later and drove for a layup. After making the shot – which put Miami within two – he didn’t get back on defense. He didn’t even get past the baseline. He just couldn’t move.

The Heat intentionally fouled to stop the action, and LeBron returned to the bench with 3:59 left. He remained there for a while, but he headed to the locker room before the game even ended.

Once LeBron left the game for good, the Spurs went on a 16-3 run on their way to a 110-95 win.

The images of LeBron’s tough night are absolutely brutal:

LeBron’s injury was a disappointing and unfortunate end to what had been an excellent game. Without LeBron, the Heat had no chance.

And he knows that.

LeBron is a gamer. He wasn’t going to let his team down if he could avoid it.

Michael Jordan couldn’t have played through that. Kobe Bryant couldn’t have played through that.

This is no time to question LeBron’s toughness – not that anything will stop those looking to criticize him.

110 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. wingsfan97 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:53 AM

    If he was tough enough he would have played through it…hockey players play through a lot more painful injures

    • moppop - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:57 AM

      Really, this statement just means that you have no clue about what happens medically. Cramps cause muscles to seize up and when they do, no amount of will or pain tolerance will allow you uncontract your muscles. The only cure for cramps is hydration and rest.

      • capsfan14 - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:47 AM

        I can name a ton of hockey players who have finished their shifts with broken bones, cuts, and severe concussions. A cramp would not stop them from skating to the bench. Basketball players are tough, but the cultures within the two sports are way different, just sayin’.

      • moppop - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:12 AM

        Good for you that you can name names of irrelevent players. The funny thing with the injuries you listed is that none of them prevent the person from moving around. Those hurt…really hurt, but they don’t prevent -motion in the way that a heat exhaustion-induced cramp would.

      • titansbro - Jun 6, 2014 at 8:54 AM

        Wrong, I’ve had cramps plenty of times. They do seize up for a bit, but they aren’t there permanently. I myself have played (granted high school, not NBA level) through cramps on several occasions. It’s painful but it can be done.

    • hehateme2 - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      What kind of strategy is this? Turn off the AC during the Finals?. Is San Antonio so small or cheap they didn’t pay their bill?

      It was a disgrace to play a game in these conditions.

      • bigbenh8tr - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        Did you watch the superbowl 2 years ago? It happens. You think this never happened in the 80s or 90s? Tony Parker, Ray Allen, Chris Bosh all said it was no big deal and didn’t make a difference to them. Lebron on the other hand continues to be a big baby and try to act like he is different. “I had to take the shot”?

        Yes you took one shot…a layup after the cramp started, and that made you need to sit out more than others?

    • leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      This is true, but pain isn’t really the main concern here. You can play through a cramp, but the risk of injury goes WAY up. If this was game 7, then yes I’d call his toughness into question. But for game 1 it would have been too big of a risk.

      And I’m not a Lebron homer, I can’t stand the Heat and their fans suggesting it happened on purpose or that they would have won no matter what are morons. But it does need to be said that hockey players, while much tougher, are also conscious of the situation(as are their coaches) and you likely wouldn’t see a star player out there in game 1 risking an injury that would knock them out for the series either.

    • bbbmf - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      -wingsfan97 and others – simply stated, you cannot “play through” muscle cramps…period. One may return to action briefly but the cramps are guaranteed to return, most often more severely.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:14 PM

      Cramps are actually very painful. I’ve broken both bones in my lower leg at once, broken my shoulder, broken my hand, broken multiple bones in my face… but the most painful thing that’s ever happened to me was a cramp in my hamstring. It actually brought tears to my face.

      On top of that, its not just about pain. Cramps immobilize your muscles. Hard to “play through it” when your leg is entirely immobilized.

  2. newyorkball82 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:56 AM

    The heat lost, deal with it. San Antonio looked sloppy most of the game. Have fun in game 2

  3. norcal031 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:02 AM

    22 turnovers and they won. LeBrons cramps should not have mattered because the game should have been over.

    • moppop - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:07 AM

      Shame that people are missing out on this. SA had 20 TOs when Lebron went out and they were only down by two. The Heat should have been up by 12 or 15.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:07 AM

      Well the Spurs free throws kept them in the game. Which is fair – they’re at home. But it’s the NBA… no lead is safe regardless of how many turnovers you’ve committed. If you keep chucking you might be able to come back – even if you’re down 12 with 2 minutes left.

  4. 00maltliquor - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:10 AM

    I haven’t seen a Finals team so dependent on ONE star player since A.I. with the 76ers! Sheesh that was BRUTAL. The entire game was fun, exciting and competitive all up until LBJ pulled his vag’, then he left and it all went to shiit. I’m so pissed I had money on the Heat this game.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:13 AM

      Oops. You shouldn’t bet against the home team in Game 1. But maybe that’s why you did.

      • 00maltliquor - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:19 AM

        These whole playoffs the road dogs have been lighting it up, plus anytime you see the Heat WITH points that’s usually a good look as I’ve been money with the Heat in the past (for most of the season they were my top 2-3 best team to bet on). Then add on top of that I actually bought 2 whole pts. at -160 to put them at +7. It seemed like a for sure thing then cramps happened and I have pie dripping down my face.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:22 AM

        Well, you know what… you were probably on to something, until you found out how hot it was in the arena.

        The moment they said something about the building being 90 degrees I already knew then that James was going to cramp up. It was inevitable.

    • kavika6 - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:46 AM

      So anti, you already knew that your hero couldn’t hack it in less than ideal conditions? Maybe next game he’ll be more prepared, with a parasol and a sun dress.

      Were you also aware that it was his “time of the month”?

    • takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:59 AM

      Ummm, how about the Cavs vs Spurs in 2007?

      • 00maltliquor - Jun 6, 2014 at 7:16 AM

        True. Damn why the East got to be so crappy and why does LeBron always got to be carrying teams on his shoulders!?

      • jimeejohnson - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:20 AM

        They don’t call it the Sh-tzone for nothing.

  5. coffeeblack95616 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:19 AM

    Lol, the lowest common denominator of human behavior is sports talk. And sadly I’m part of that pathetic group. My god people are stupid, and then there are the impressively stupid who use “da” in their posts.

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      Nobody is more of a stupid punk than CantonPeaBrain. Being the New Yawk loser that he is makes it easier.

  6. ningenito78 - Jun 6, 2014 at 2:21 AM

    LeBron takes as dump.
    http://t.co/jSRjSe2g6y 3030 (@Jose3030) June 5th, 2014

  7. kavika6 - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:41 AM

    One way or another Ledrama queen had to be the center of attention.

  8. cantonbound13 - Jun 6, 2014 at 5:11 AM

    Awe, Princess has menstral cramping?

  9. bbk1000 - Jun 6, 2014 at 5:34 AM

    LeBron can’t take the heat…..haha, I love it.

    He’s a phony, now he’s a wimp as well. His leggings didn’t help?

  10. takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Jun 6, 2014 at 7:01 AM

    Lebron disappearing in a playoff game? Exactly what happened in 2010 right before he left Cleveland. Sorry Miami, he’s checking out early again.

  11. crush22 - Jun 6, 2014 at 8:06 AM

    What a drama queen…..cramping just like a woman.
    Funny how nobody else had this problem.
    #pansey

  12. willkill4caffeine - Jun 6, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    I’ve run cross country, track, and played basketball my entire life, so I’ve suffered my fair share of cramps and understand how debilitating they can be. I guess my only question for LeBron would be, why not take off those Under-Armour full-length spandex pants for the second half, since you know its 1,000 degrees in the building and you’re having trouble with fluid intake/output?! To me it seems like common sense to remove full-length spandex that increase heat absorption and fluid loss due to sweat, but then again I’m not an NBA athlete.

  13. phillysports1 - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    @kb2408

    “Whatever, dude. I don’t deny it, I root against the Heat, and mainly it’s due to bandwagon know nothing “fans” like yourself. I respect the fans of the Celtics, Spurs, and a few other fanbases because they are true fans.”

    Best comment I’ve read in months. And it comes from a Kobe fan like my self. I’m glad I’m not the only one observing the FAKE sports fans all over the state of Florida.

  14. djwhite33 - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    Harden up Lebron. So soft!

  15. djshnooks - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    Wow, those images of a basketball player cramping up are “absolutely brutal!”

    No, not even close. He is a pansy.

    Want absolutely brutal? Go look at pictures of Clint Malarchuk’s carotid artery getting severed by a hockey skate. That’s brutal.

    This Lebron stuff is just hilarious and weak.

    “absolutely brutal.” Lmfao, gtfoh!

    • savvybynature - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:40 PM

      Yeah, just looked like a guy sitting on the bench to me.
      “Absolutely brutal” is a pretty big stretch, unless maybe you’re a Heat fan, and maybe the author is, I don’t know.
      From a human perspective, cramps are painful but not a threat to a career. From a Heat fan perspective, maybe it was brutal to see the Spurs light it up after Lebron went out.

  16. jimeejohnson - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    Figures a pussy like CantonPeaBrain would use vagina in his comments so much.

  17. djshnooks - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    I’m sorry…hockey players would absolutely be out there in game #1 of the FINALS.

    You see it all the time.

    But even during the regular season, a guy gets his nose broken, goes into the locker room, gets it snapped back into place…and comes out for his next shift…all the time.

    Meanwhile…Lebron James gets bumped on the nose, sits out a couple games, and has to wear a mask to protect his face.

    But in hockey you see guys losing teeth, breaking bones, getting hit in the face and/or unprotected areas by 90mph slapshots…and they never miss a game.

    Coming from someone who played both sports growing up…you can’t even compare the two in terms of toughness.

    It’s honestly not even close, I’m sorry.

  18. djshnooks - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    Also in hockey it’s the coach saying, “are you good and ready to go next shift?”

    In basketball it’s, “I cannot afford to lose you for the next game, sit down.”

    Erik Spolestra (sp?) conceded defeat last night, whereas a hockey coach wouldn’t, no matter what…unless, like I said earlier, the player was taken off on a stretcher.

    (And I don’t mean Sydney Crosby…he is the Lebron James of hockey…sure they are tremendous athletes, as as much as I the saying it, they are the best in their sports…they are soft prima-donnas…and I’m not 100% positive I’d build MY teams around them if given the chance to do so.)

    I’d love to see the baddest hockey player, fight the baddest basketball player though!

    Who do you think that would be?

  19. birdsofprey305 - Jun 6, 2014 at 6:05 PM

    No excuses spurs won , and the heat will be ready for game 2.

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