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Players union acting director calls Game 1 conditions ‘completely unacceptable’

Jun 7, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

2014 NBA Finals - Game One Getty Images

Should Game 1 of the NBA Finals have even been played Thursday?

With the temperature near 90 degrees in the Spurs home arena, it’s a question worth asking. And apparently the league actively considered how to proceed in the unusual heat.

NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn:

What you are looking for is to make sure that the conditions on the court are fine, and in this case there was no one slipping.  Once the game starts, it’s in the hands of the referees.  Had the referees felt at any time or had I felt at any time ‑‑ I was sitting the second row midcourt ‑‑ were such that the game shouldn’t be continued, then they would have come over and said something to me.  Never did, I never said anything to them regarding the fact that the game should be cancelled.
You know, again, in live sporting events, sometimes things transpire that you don’t expect.  Obviously the conditions were the same for both teams, and it’s just one of those unfortunate things.

The National Basketball Players Association didn’t find that explanation good enough.

Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg (hat tip: James Herbet of Eye on Basketball)”

Klempner is probably correct that the NBA should have communicated better with the players and their representatives.  Thorn and the referees shouldn’t unilaterally make a decision that puts players at risk in their workplace.

And they should have considered more than just whether or not the floor was slick. The extreme temperature also increased the players’ risks of other maladies like heat exhaustion and cramping, the latter of which hit LeBron James hard.

All said, the game should have been played. As Thorn noted, conditions can’t be perfectly set during live events. Competing athletically at that level carries an inherent risk, and though the heat increased the risk, it probably didn’t extend it beyond an acceptable level.

But the players union probably should have had more voice in that decision, even if the conclusion would have been identical to reality.

  1. bowltr - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:05 AM

    The pussification of America continues!

    • loubearkane - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:42 AM

      Maybe they will give all the players on both teams a trophy when it’s over

    • ozarkannie74 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:43 AM

      Why don’t you just turn off your air conditioning for the summer and tough up, big man!!

      • savvybynature - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:35 PM

        We don’t use our a/c, and we live in southern Virginia where it routinely exceeds 90 degrees in August.
        It’s called man up, drink some cold water and turn on a fan.
        America really is pussified when “oh yeah, turn off your a/c then!” is issued as some outrageous challenge that presumably no one would actually do.

      • mannyfresh209 - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:03 PM

        I guarantee you, that you open your windows and have all your fans going in the house when it’s that hot. Hardly comparable to playing as hard as you can in a 90+ degree sauna with must and no fresh air coming in. But, you’re a tough guy, so you’d probably play even BETTER than normal. Am I right?

    • sabatimus - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      Getting heat exhaustion qualifies as pussification?

      • loubearkane - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:56 AM

        Its not anything anyone in the past hasnt had to deal with

      • urallstupid - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:32 AM

        so bring back slavery, its not anything anyone in the past hasnt had to deal with right?

      • loubearkane - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:48 AM

        yeah because those go hand and hand you moron

      • bucrightoff - Jun 7, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        The bring back slavery comment might be one of the dumbest on this site ever. Millionaire athletes not playing in supremely ideal conditions and slavery? Yeah, I can see why you’d compare them…

      • elcapitanfiscal - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        That escalated quickly.

      • sabatimus - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:50 AM

        That’s the most pot-kettle comment I’ve ever seen.

      • duhwighthoward - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:40 PM

        @sabatimus, yes.

        Now go run to an anti-bullying zone for safety.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:13 PM

        The old Boston Garden, where the Celtics and Larry Bird and the boys played ball had NO air conditioning.

        The building did NOT have it at all, period.

        Year after year, decade after decade…

        The NBA Finals in the Boston Garden in 1984 made the conditions in the AT&T building seem cool compared to what they played through in the Garden.

        Again, the AC didn’t just break or go out… There was NO air conditioning in the building at all…

      • turnmymicup - Jun 7, 2014 at 2:34 PM

        Makes no sense at all right? I see nothing pussy about heat exhaustion and cramps. Yes both teams had to play like that but that doesn’t justify the conditions.

      • mydoghasfleez - Jun 8, 2014 at 6:31 PM

        But sportsfan, did the building have ANY air conditioning? I missed if you mentioned that.

    • aldavisfortytime - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:11 PM

      I’m not advocating for either side here, but I just love the “suck it up” and “America is full of wussies now” comments.

      I would love to hear what makes you such a manly man.

      • duhwighthoward - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        First of all I’d piss in your face and make you eat your own feces in front of your wife and children.

        And you’d take it, wuss.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:31 PM


        I’ll take that challenge. I’m in my mid 40’s and the wussification of America bothers me.

        When I went to college, full time in 4 yrs in the 80’s, I worked every semester to help me get through (still had student loans to pay off for 10 yrs after graduation though).

        For BOTH of my junior and senior years of college, I took full 15 or 16 credit hr course loads and worked the following part time jobs…

        Job 1 breakfast shift at a dorm cafeteria

        I lived off campus in an apartment my last two yrs of college and when a person worked in the cafeteria in the dorms, they let us eat for free the shift we worked. This way I was working and not eating at my apartment and they couldn’t mess up scrambled eggs, yogurt, boxes of cereal, milk and OJ and bagels…

        I would work 3 to 4 shifts a week. 5 hr shifts. That AVERAGES out to 17.5 hrs a week.

        I’ll use 12 hrs total as an AVERAGE per week, though some weeks it was MORE.

        From Mon to Fri, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. the front office of each dorm was open. The full time university employees went home at 4:30 p.m. and they hired college kids to work the front desk, to cash checks, get mail etc… until it closed at 7 p.m.

        I shared this job with my girlfriend. 15 hrs a week that we split so 7.5 more hrs of work for me until 7 p.m.

        Many of my cafeteria shifts began at 5:30 a.m.

        3rd part time job. The dorms had maids on each floor but they only worked Mon to Fri. So the university hired students to work on Sat and Sun from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to clean the floors, bathrooms, empty trash. The dorm we cleaned on the weekends was the one we lived in our first two years and it was the dorm we shared the job of closing down the front desk at 7 p.m. on.

        So EVERY Sat and Sun for BOTH of my junior and senior years of college I worked from 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m both freaking days for two full years of college…

        That was 16 hrs each week for that job.

        So, my 3 part time jobs averaged about 41 hrs a week of work for me while I went to college full time.

        Then, when I graduated from college in May, I worked for the university from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and then went to work from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m to as late as 1:30 a.m. at a grocery store.

        The univ job was only Mon to Fri but the grocery store job was whatever the schedule was and it always was on Sat and Sun so I was working my normal, usual 7 days a week like I had during my last two yrs of college.

        Then it finally came time to get married in the middle of July and I was damn glad too as I was looking forward to the break.

        After the honeymoon, we moved out of state from where we went to college to where I was being grad school and my wife began teaching elementary school.

        Yet kids today complain about college and trying to get through it…

        Try partying on Friday and Saturday nights all during your junior and senior yrs of college and having to be at work at 8 a.m. with the old fashioned punch time clocks…

        Wusses today

      • mannyfresh209 - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:07 PM

        Did you just claim that partying all night, followed by an early work shift the following day makes you tough? In that case, consider me invincible. Or, just call you and I typical kids who had the energy of… Dun dun dunnnn… A kid!

      • mydoghasfleez - Jun 8, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        Hey sportsfan – ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

    • Great Caesar's Ghost - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      Big thumbs up.

  2. jxt2521 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:06 AM

    The Player exec just wants attention and to more relevant. Most of the world plays professional basketball in similar situations.

    • turnmymicup - Jun 7, 2014 at 3:15 PM

      Well this isn’t most of the world so thats irrelevant. Along with the idea since the NBA didn’t have A/C in the golden days the conditions shouldn’t matter. Stop people just stop. What does that have to do with how the game is played today? Nothing at all.

  3. briangraydon - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    Aww! Poor little Heat couldn’t take the heat. Poor babies. The irony is baseball players and football players play in the heat, especially when they are on artificial turf. Maybe the NBA could cut the game to 40 minutes so the layers don’t get too tired every 3 days.

    • ranfan12 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      >Poor heat
      >1 player got cramps

      Why do you say poor heat? That makes no sense

  4. progress2011 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    “They trying to smoke us out of here” !!!

    * Anytime the face of an organization/ league can be heard, making such negative comments about his working conditions….the employer (in this case the NBA) should be embarrassed.

    * The NBA is a global sport. Fans from around the world have waited specifically for this time of year….The NBA Championships!!! This is the product you produce!!! A game determined by something other than the players, playing at their best.

    * Maybe “Small Market Teams” should not be allowed to participate past the first round, if they can’t even afford to get their arena prepared for the biggest stage of the year.

    * Maybe the San Antonio organization should be fined by the Players Association for such an embarrassing night and risking players health

    * Tickets to the NBA Finals cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars (per person). Fans were exposed to 90 degree heat, sweating and fanning themselves. They should certainly get refunds for such an unpleasant experience….I’m a working class fellow. If I spend that kind of money on “Entertainment” the conditions better be near perfect!!!

    • thegoodfight12 - Jun 7, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      Maybe machines break down regardless of the size of the city said machine is in.

      Maybe Miami and San Antonio should both be fined for having the gall to force fans to suffer by um… playing basketball?

      Maybe you’re just a tad butt hurt.

  5. reesesteel23 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    I mean….why not warn team officials or coaches as soon as you see there is a problem so they can pump last minute fluid or IV or something in their bodies? Seems like they waited to the very last minute to even bring it up. Maybe they did bring it up but nobody has mentioned it yet?

    They just keep defending the decision by saying…”Conditions were the same for both teams”…..the answer to every question is..”Conditions were the same for both teams”

    • duhwighthoward - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      an IV? Give me a break.

      I don’t understand what is the matter with people like you. Soft little spoiled brat, accustomed to your air conditioning and central heating. It wasn’t even 90 degrees.

      Thanks for proving that you are an armchair athlete. It’s obvious you never went out and played basketball on a Saturday afternoon in the summer.

      • turnmymicup - Jun 7, 2014 at 3:56 PM

        No my friend I don’t see what’s the matter with ppl like YOU. Dont preach like your some manly man living off camp fire. How is one spoiled if they get accustomed to something we’ve had for decades? I grew up in South Fl. Not only do we average 95 here in the summer you get a extra present with the humidity. Trust me I know the heat. Played basketball and football almost every day outside at the parks. I’d rather play bball inside at a Rec center any day of the week. You keep the sun and the concrete. Ill take the A/C and the hardwood. Call me what you want that’s keeping it real.

      • reesesteel23 - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:17 PM

        Tf? Do you have anything to say about the article or are you a troll like 90% of the people here? This 1 comment gave you enough info about me that somehow know that I’m a spoiled brat who has always had a/c and central heating? Let’s not forget I’m a wheel chair athlete and never hooped on a hot day?

        I just balls’d up enough to drop 1K last week to get my a/c fixed. Been without it for the last 3 summers in Oklahoma where the drought is no joke. I’ll leave it at that and won’t even lay out my basketball resume. So Fizzuck you and this high horse your dumb*** rode in on. Pathetic a$$ troll.

  6. explosionsauce - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    If Lebron couldn’t finish then the game definitely should’ve been called…

    • loubearkane - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:58 AM

      He got cramps , should they stop every game a player gets cramps or just Lebron?

      • elcapitanfiscal - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        Just LeBron.

      • explosionsauce - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        There should be a sarcasm font because clearly I didnt make myself clear

    • eugenesaxe1 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      No, you made yourself very clear, there’s just a lot of idiots online today.

  7. beach305 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    Game should not have been played

    • scmems07 - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:33 AM

      Your right, and we should also get the Lakers and Celtics teams back on the floor and replay the 84-85 finals too huh?

      • palerider2x - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        Yeah, ok, I’m for that! You suggested it, you make it happen!

  8. denverhoopdreams - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    lol, at the influx of Heat fans above saying it should have been called.

    It must be nice to have the A/C on EVERYWHERE you go down in Miami.

    From my view, it looked like James was the only one who had any issue with the heat.

  9. emaney477 - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    I’m sure all these guys have played in hotter temps under the sun, before they became spoiled NBAers. I’m sure these guys have play in 90 degree weather outdoors on the school yards before they were pros.

    • reesesteel23 - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      I don’t think they should’ve cancelled the game but 90 degrees indoor is worse than 90 degrees outdoors. Just hope you never have to be without A/C for an entire summer. lol

  10. rayburns - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    In 1975, two men fought under stifling heat (estimated at 120 degrees) and humidity in one of the greatest boxing matches in history, the Thrilla in Manila. Although heat was a factor, neither Joe Frazier or Muhammad Ali used the heat as an excuse for what happened in those 14 rounds.

    This is not a diss on LeBron, but rather the entire attitude of today’s professional athlete. Playing basketball in 90 degrees is not going to be fun, but the game isn’t supposed to be ‘fun’, its supposed to be about winning. If it means playing with a sprained ankle, or through a 105 degree fever, or in a 90 degree arena, you just tie your laces and do it.

    At least it used to be…

  11. scoochpooch - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    When Spurs come to Miami just lock them in their locker room an hour before warmups and pump the heat up to 120 degrees. Let them out right before Game 3 and see how they play. I’m betting they’ll probably develop heatstroke and lose by 50 points. Even Steven.

    • asimonetti88 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:19 PM

      It’s not like the Heat were the only team that had to play without air conditioning.

    • eugenesaxe1 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      It was “Even Steven” the night LBJ had to beg out. Pinhead.

    • duhwighthoward - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      @scoochpooch, thank you for identifying yourself. When the purge comes, we’ll make sure you’re first.

  12. mrlaloosh - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Miami has a built-in excuse if they lose the series. “It was just too hot….”……..

    • reesesteel23 - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:26 AM

      If Stadium officials used the 5 days in-between series to ensure everything would be working properly, you would not have to worry about a “built in excuse”.

      If the Heat win, you and everyone else choose the worst call officials made throughout the 4 qr’s of that game and use that as an excuse as to why the won.

  13. 1historian - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    Ron – the problem has been found, the repairs have been made, apologies have probably been made, the game is in the books.

    But thanks for your input anyway.

    Anybody out there remember the game during the 1984 Celtics – Lakers finals when the Garden was something like that?

  14. timb12 - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    They forgot to add one. Bad things can happen like heat exhaustion, cramps, or fatigue.

    This whole thing is being overblown. But hey, let’s get one more opinion on it!

  15. fordmandalay - Jun 7, 2014 at 10:04 AM

    But apparently those conditions were perfectly okay for he Celtics to force every other team to play in at Boston during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Oh I forgot, LeBron must be coddled at all times to continue to push his ‘legacy’ as ‘the Greatest Player Ever’. Maybe they should change the rules more to make it a foul to even breathe on him.

    • gatorfan1 - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:32 AM


      I think they already do call fouls for breathing on him. All you need to do is go back during this season, LeBron went 5 games w/o committing a foul. I don’t care what anyone says, as much as he is on the floor that is statistically impossible. I’m sure when the NBA found out they made sure he got some fouls in the next game.

      That pretty much sums up how this guy is babied!!!

  16. jzone954 - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    Things happen, what can you do. Yea the AC being broke sucked , yea Lebron cramping up and having to leave sucked too, but I’m more upset with a team that was down by 2 when left , that’s completely collapsed and let the game get from them. No on on the Heat looked like they knew what to do on both ends of the court once Lebron left. The spurs just took off and everyone else on Miami looked gased. It happens

  17. wilmyers09 - Jun 7, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    gatorfan1 dude lebron is just a good defender ur just mad i bet u are a 76ers fan that likes to tank and does not know what good defense is.

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      But he knows what good cheesesteak is!

    • gatorfan1 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      Just so you know-grew up Celtic fan & went to college in Boston. So much for that theory, huh!!

    • eugenesaxe1 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:47 PM

      At least he can speak the language.

  18. coffeeblack95616 - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    So what does calling the conditions “unacceptable” actually do? Game 1 won’t be played again; the Spurs still get the win. Big freaking deal.

    • antistratfordian - Jun 7, 2014 at 5:31 PM

      So it doesn’t happen again, Einstein.

  19. savvybynature - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    I liked what Kawhi Leonard said about the game conditions: ““I don’t feel like the heat took anything away from me besides just being hot.”
    There you go, nothing about the game of basketball changed, nothing about either team changed, everyone was just hotter. Big deal. Is no one ever supposed to be hot or uncomfortable again for their entire lives?
    I wonder if there would be this huge overreaction to this if Duncan got cramps and Lebron was fine. Or what if some role player got cramps, would anyone care?

  20. Great Caesar's Ghost - Jun 7, 2014 at 12:52 PM

    If the union had its way there’d be no games, just paychecks.

  21. antistratfordian - Jun 7, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    What made the game so low class wasn’t really about the players – but just looking at how miserable the audience was. And this is supposed to be the Super Bowl of the NBA; showcasing the best the league has to offer.

    So it is absolutely ridiculous for a game of this magnitude.

  22. antistratfordian - Jun 7, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    This is supposed to be the Super Bowl of the NBA – showcasing the best the league has to offer. So it is ridiculous for a game of this magnitude, and completely unprofessional.

    • gatorfan1 - Jun 7, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      You do know that the lights went out for 40 minutes 2 SB ago, right!!

      • antistratfordian - Jun 7, 2014 at 6:18 PM

        Yep. Also low class. That was similarly unacceptable.

      • bdazzler00 - Jun 8, 2014 at 12:00 AM

        hmm…to the best of my knowledge they stopped play when that happened.

        what surprises me about this situation is more from a fan at the game perspective. nowadays usually when there is no working a/c at an indoor restaurant or entertainment facility it poses various health and fire code risks and a business isn’t really supposed to stay open. if there was no working a/c in a movie theater they would ask you to leave the theater and refund your money. If your a/c lost power in a restaurant it would trigger your fire alarm. When you factor in 20,000 fans packed closely together, including children and elderly, it’s surprising the conditions were allowed to exist for so long.

        all that being said, the playing field was level for both teams. hopefully the heat are worrying more about how to stop splitter on pick and rolls, get out to defend danny green on 3’s, and how to keep mario chalmers from being, well, mario chalmers.

  23. imakcds - Jun 7, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    look here… shirts or skins?
    don’t make your ft’s, you don’t play…

    ain’t NONE of those players forgot their roots….
    except maybe LeBron..

  24. kevjones75 - Jun 8, 2014 at 11:36 AM

    We have turned a nation of grit into a nation of grievance. What happened?

    • mydoghasfleez - Jun 8, 2014 at 6:45 PM


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