LeBron James’ triumphant return means cramp chatter can cease

Miami's Game 2 triumph means focus can return to matters of basketball, not hydration

LeBron James, No 6, of the Miami Heat goes to the basket against Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs during Game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals at the AT&T Center on June 8, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. Andy Lyons / Getty Images
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Just like that, The Cramp Game dissipates into the past.

We will hear far less armchair bravado from the legions who claimed they would have played through Game 1 with the same kind of cramps that LeBron James experienced.

We do not have to hear from the amateur sports scientists, explaining why more isotonic drinks should have made James good to go.

After Game 2, we can get back to talking about basketball.

"Just play, live with the results," James said after the Miami Heat's 98-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday that brought the NBA Finals to 1-1 in the best-of-seven series.

It looked like a good working motto for James, who appeared to have made peace with a frustrating Game 1, a tight game he left late in the fourth after his muscles began seizing up on multiple occasions, eventually watching from the bench as the Spurs broke open what had been a tight game.

As frustrating as what transpired on the court must have been, the silly debate surrounding his cramps must have been even more frustrating: whether or not he should have played through it; whether or not he was mentally or physically weak for coming out of the game; whether or not the air-conditioning failure in San Antonio was a grand conspiracy, given his prior history with cramps.

On the court, the difference between Games 1 and 2 was clearly Miami’s defensive effectiveness. They scored only three more points than in Game 1, but this time they allowed 14 fewer. It illustrated how important James is to the Heat’s system.

When James left Game 1 with four minutes left, the Heat were only down 94-92. The Spurs scored 16 points during those four minutes en route to their 110-95 win.

In Game 2, with LeBron on the court for the final nine-plus minutes of the fourth quarter, San Antonio scored 16 points and, instead of losing by 15, this time Miami won by two.

In the NBA Finals, the margins are that thin and LeBron James is that important.

Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are still elite offensive players, but neither is much of a defensive stalwart. The Heat need James to be a presence on the perimeter as well as near the basket, something few other players in the NBA are asked to do.

In Game 2, he was able to stay on the court and do that.

Maybe going forward with these Finals, the rest of us can just watch, and live with the results.


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