SAN ANTONIO — If the NBA Finals resumed Friday, there would be no way LeBron James could play.
There’s no game until Sunday.
And James plans to be ready by then.
With his gait still affected by severe cramping and dehydration, and feeling the effects of a sleepless night brought on by several trips to the bathroom — an unavoidable drawback of having his body filled with fluids — James insisted he will play when the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs get together for Game 2 of the finals.
“I’ll be in uniform on Sunday,” James said Friday. “I should be 100 percent on Sunday. Obviously I’m going to take it light today. Training staff said I should take it light today. Give the body another day to recover. Tomorrow I should be back on my feet full go — and I got all day Sunday to get ready for Sunday night.
When he was there on Thursday, the Heat were right there as well.
When he was done, so were the Heat.
Up by seven at one point in the fourth quarter, Miami fell apart in the final minutes and James’ ugly departure could have easily had something to do with that. San Antonio’s lead was 94-92 after James scored with 4:09 left; he was out of the game for good and unable to move 10 seconds later. From that point, the Spurs finished on a 16-3 run.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made no excuses Friday, simply saying the two-time defending NBA champions needed to close the deal, James or no James.
“He’s a competitor at the highest level,” Spoelstra said. “So it was killing him being on that sideline, but you also have your health to look after. Look, 99.9 (percent) of people have never pushed their body to that level, at that level where you’re past the point where your tank is empty and your body shuts down. For a competitor and for the best player in the game at this level to constantly push his body past that point, I think, is incredibly admirable.”
Crampgate, as Spoelstra called it, was still the hot topic of the finals Friday.
— Spoelstra revealed James took seven anti-cramping pills during the game.
— The air conditioning was working again at AT&T Center and the NBA said a faulty breaker caused the breakdown. Arena events this weekend, including a Friday concert and Saturday WNBA game, were proceeding as scheduled.
— Gatorade issued an apology over some tweets that made light of James’ cramps. James is an endorser of Powerade, a rival sports drink.
— NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Associated Press that he spoke with James’ agent Rich Paul and manager Maverick Carter to check in on the health of the four-time MVP.
“They both assured me that he was all right,” Silver said. “We all agreed that it was an unfortunate incident.”
Silver said the league is satisfied that there was no chicanery involved.
“It’s the nature of live sporting events,” Silver said. “It’s, for better or worse, part of the drama of these games.”
The Heat used nine players Thursday night and guard Dwyane Wade said he’d like to see the rotation expand in Game 2.
“This time of the year you can’t leave anything to chance,” Wade said. “I look forward to us using more guys next game, keep guys fresher.”
James has dealt with cramps in big games before, including Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals against Oklahoma City and Game 3 of this season’s Eastern Conference finals against Indiana. He’s been tested as to why he cramps; doctors, he said, have no answers. Heat trainers are typically not available to media, but Spoelstra said the team takes all necessary measures to keep James healthy.
“Maybe in his case, his ability to mentally push himself harder than the next guy just pushes his muscles more to the extreme,” said Dr. James Gladstone, the co-chief of sports medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “In some ways it’s almost commendable that he pushes himself that hard.”
Spoelstra said he doesn’t compare Thursday to past cramping issues. The arena temperature made for an abnormal night.
“It’s like trying to play an NBA basketball game in a hot yoga environment. It’s not ideal,” Spoelstra said. “We’re not making excuses for it, we’re trying to adapt on the fly and it was at an extreme level and he was competing at an extremely high level. The only other answer would have been to pace himself, and he doesn’t have that in his DNA.”MORE IN Sports WireINDIANAPOLIS — Kyle Busch pulled off a rare trifecta Saturday. Full Story
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