LeBron James and Heat trainers tried multiple solutions to help stave off cramping during halftime of Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Spurs, but they were to no avail. James limped off the floor at San Antonio's AT&T Center in pain during the fourth quarter, and Miami lost its chance of winning the series opener along with him.
"The best option for me was to not move," James told reporters. "I tried and any little step or nudge, it would get worse. I would lock up worse and my muscles spasmed 10 out of 10. Best thing for me to do was just not to move and, you know, it was frustrating."
James exited the game with cramps with 7:31 remaining and the Heat holding a two-point lead. It didn't last for long. The Spurs took control without James on the floor to take the series opener, 110-95.
It was a game that wasn't played under ordinary conditions. The air conditioning in the building broke, causing temperatures to reach more than 90 degrees on the court. Everyone in the building was clearly affected by the heat, but James' inability to finish is what will draw headlines until Game 2 tips off on Sunday.
With his muscles locked because of dehydration, James sat the final four minutes of the game after briefly re-entering with 4:33 remaining. James explained after the game that he tried to return to the game again, but coach Erik Spoelstra wouldn't let him.
James said he had played through conditions like that since he entered the NBA in 2003. No matter how many different preventative measures he tried to take throughout the game, it didn't work:
"Drank a lot at halftime, even, changed my uniform, just tried to get the sweat up off of you," James said. "Our training staff tried to do the best they could by giving us ice bags and cold towels on timeouts, keep us dry.
"It was an unusual circumstance. I never played in a building like that, it's been a while, like a high school game or CYO and everybody is sitting on top and you feel good being in a building like that.
"But, you know, at the end of the day, it's no discredit for what (San Antonio) did. They played extremely well. They moved the ball extremely well. I think they had 30 assists. You know, even from the turnovers both teams were committing, uncharacteristic of both teams, they played extremely well."
James explained that the pain shot throughout the left side of his body:
"It was the whole left leg, damn near the whole left side," he said. "I was losing a lot throughout the game. It was extremely hot in the building, you know, both teams, fans, everybody could feel it. I was the one that had to take the shot."
This is hardly the first time James has been the victim of cramps. He had to be carried off the floor during Game 4 of the 2012 Finals against the Thunder, and fought through them in the Eastern Conference finals against the Pacers this year.