SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – The NBA harbors its dreams of international expansion, scrubs away at its problems with slippery-slope racism, and can’t quite manufacture rules that result in league-wide competitive balance. But first things first: Somebody in San Antonio needs to fix the AC, the absence of which helped the Spurs win Game 1 of the NBA Finals over the Heat.
Initially, many involved joked about how the conditions in the sweltering AT&T Center on Thursday for Game 1 of the NBA Finals reminded of sepia-toned memories. When we played poor. When we played outside. When all that mattered was a ball and a rim and a friend to play with, modern comforts like indoor air conditioning be damned.
But the AC stayed broke-down. And eventually, LeBron James and the Miami Heat joined the same state.
“It was frustrating sitting out and not being able to help our team,” said James, who cramped up so badly that he could only watch the end of San Antonio 110, Miami 95. “It’s frustration and anger. But at the same time, it’s something that you try to prevent, you try to control. I mean, I got all the fluids I need to get, I do my normal routine I’ve done.”
The normal routine for both these franchises it to chase rings. But this was an exhausting pursuit as thermostats gauged the temperature at 89 degrees indoors in San Antonio.
Outdoors, as we begin the oven that is summers in Texas, the temperature was a few degrees cooler.
What happened? A 600-volt circuit breaker in the bowels of the arena went bad. Engineers surely labored frantically to find a fix; I can imagine Adam Silver was down there swinging a wrench, too, not wishing his commissioner-ship to begin with the heat the league has taken for the Donald Sterling debacle and now, this more literal variety.
But the NBA Finals’ sauna-like conditions did not fade and became central to the game and central to the story.
“As the game started I was like, ‘Wow, it feels nice and warm in here,'” Miami’s Ray Allen was quoted as saying. “It reminded me of when I was in high school growing up and I didn’t have air conditioning in my gym. So I felt at home. I could get my body nice and loose.”
James likely felt the same way when, with four minutes remaining in the game, his layup cut the Spurs’ edge to just two points. This could be the start of the Heat winning a third straight title and of making San Antonio the runner-up for the second straight year.
Then suddenly … down went LeBron.
“It was the whole left leg,” said LeBron, who was administered IVs after the game. “Damn near the whole left side.”
Of course, San Antonio found a way to cope. The Spurs overcame their 23 turnovers thanks in large part to Tim Duncan, age 38, playing 33 minutes without going down, and with Manu Ginobili, age 36, doing the same.
“I don’t think I’ve played in anything like this since I left the [Virgin] Islands,” said Duncan. “It was pretty bad out there.”
Conspiracy theories aboard. But no, the Spurs didn’t turn off their own AC on purpose.
LeBron Sucks memes aboard, too. And yes, they are part of the territory for the world’s best player when he cannot play.
The NBA says a new circuit breaker will be installed this weekend and that Sunday’s Game 2 is not in doubt.
“I’m sure that both teams are going to be happy that we have a couple of days before the next game,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “And hopefully we can pay our bills.”
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