Sweltering temperatures forced LeBron James to sit on the sidelines in the closing minutes. (John W. McDonough/SI)
SAN ANTONIO -- The AT&T Center's air conditioning malfunctioned during the Spurs' 110-95 victory over the Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, and Miami forward LeBron James missed the last four minutes with leg cramps.
"[The heat] was significant. It was definitely a factor," San Antonio big man Tim Duncan told ABC after the game. "I don't know about what happened to LeBron, but all of us feeling the heat were dehydrated."
During the broadcast, ABC's Doris Burke reported the temperature in the arena had exceeded 90 degrees. James asked out of the game multiple times and ultimately left for goodwith 3:59 remaining and the Heat trailing 94-92. After James' departure, San Antonio finished the game on a 16-3 run to win the opener of the Finals rematch.
"I think everybody got a little tired or a little dehydrated," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I'm sure that both teams are going to be happy that we have a couple of days before the next game and hopefully we can pay our bills."
At the end of the third quarter, the public address announcer acknowledged the AC malfunction, drawing whistles and boos from the crowd. The Spurs also confirmed the problem in a press statement.
"An electrical failure for the power that runs the AC system in the AT&T Center has occurred," the statement read. "We are continuing to work on resolving the problem. We apologize for any inconvenience."
The public address system appeared to be having some fun with the AC situation, playing Nelly's Hot in Herre during stoppages of play. The crowd cooled itself with fans and writers joked early in the game about Pacers guard Lance Stephenson blowing on everyone for relief.
James weighed in, too.
"I'm [going to need] some colder water," a mic'd-up James was heard saying on the ABC broadcast. "They're trying to smoke us out of here."
James asked for breather with 7:03 left in the third quarter, an unusually early time in the period for him to get a rest. Four-time MVP and Miami big man Chris Bosh both came out of the game at that point and sat on the bench with ice packs on the back of their necks. James returned at the 3:53 mark of the quarter.
LeBron requested another break with 7:31 to play in the fourth quarter and the Heat leading 86-84. San Antonio went on a 10-4 run over the next three minutes before James returned with Miami trailing 94-90. James immediately scored on a driving layup, but he pulled up when he landed, and had to be helped off the floor.
This isn't the first unusual occurrence to take place in San Antonio during the playoffs. Before Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Trail Blazers, a snake was found in Portland forward Thomas Robinson's locker.
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