had a severe case of cramps in the fourth quarter. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO -- Heat forward LeBron James missed the last four minutes of Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday after leaving with cramps in his left leg.
James went to the bench with Miami trailing by two points at the 3:59 mark. With the four-time MVP sidelined, the Spurs closed on a 16-3 run to pull away for a 110-95 victory.
“I was going to try to give it a go and (Heat coach Erik Spoelstra) said no," James told a pool reporter after the game. "It sucks at this point in time in the season. … It was frustrating sitting out.”
LeBron's early departure came on a night when the AT&T Center's air conditioning malfunctioned, leaving the building a sweltering mess throughout the game. James asked out of the game five minutes into the third quarter and again with 7:31 remaining in the fourth quarter. The second of those breathers lasted three minutes, during which San Antonio responded with a 10-4 run to turn a two-point deficit into a four-point lead.
“My muscles spasmed 10 out of 10," James explained. "The best thing for me to do was not move.”
Upon checking back into the game with 4:33 to play, James drove hard to the basket and converted a layup, only to pull up on the baseline and immediately ask out of the game. Miami fouled on San Antonio's ensuing possession and James was helped to the Heat's bench. He finished with a game-high 25 points (on 9-of-17 shooting), six rebounds, three assists and three steals in 33 minutes. James did not meet with the media, but told a pool reporter he was already feeling better. Still, the four-time MVP was disappointed over his early exit and the circumstances it came under.
"It’s frustration and anger," James said. "… I lost all the fluids that I was putting in in the last couple of days out there on the floor.” LBJ
James was caught on the ABC broadcast commenting about the conditions before he was sidelined with the cramps.
“I’m [going to need] some colder water,” a mic’d-up James was heard saying. “They’re trying to smoke us out of here.”
James also dealt with leg cramps during the 2012 Finals against the Thunder.
After Game 1, Heat guard Dwyane Wade was asked if he had ever played in conditions as hot as Thursday's.
"Yeah, but not in the NBA. Not in the Finals," he said.
Game 2 is Sunday in San Antonio. NBA executive Rod Thorn said the AT&T center is confident the air conditioning problem will be fixed by then.
“We think it will be fixed come Sunday and we will be able to play under normal conditions," he said.
More SI.com NBA playoff coverage
2014 NBA Finals schedule, results | Staff predictions: Spurs or Heat?
FINALS PREVIEW: Legacies at stake in Heat vs. Spurs II | What to watch
VIDEO: Relive epic 2013 Finals between Heat-Spurs | No re-run in 2014
FINALS X-FACTORS: Parker’s injured ankle, Battier, Ginobili and more
JENKINS: Adam Silver his own man | Anatomy of a Miracle: Allen’s three
SI ROUNDTABLE: How can LeBron still improve? | Knicks or Lakers job?
MORE: Oddsmaker favors … | Duncan on rematch: ‘We’ll do it this time’PHOTOS: Greatest upsets
| NBA playoffs fashion
| LeBron’s best playoff games