Erik Spoelstra: Spurs should be fined if AT&T Center's AC isn't fixed for Game 2
SAN ANTONIO -- Erik Spoelstra was adamant that the AT&T Center's broken air conditioning system shouldn't be blamed for the Heat's Game 1 loss to the Spurs, but he also made it clear that the high temperatures better not happen again.
Speaking Friday at the Spurs' practice facility -- which had fully-functioning air conditioning, in case you were wondering -- Miami's coach said that San Antonio should face a sanction from the NBA if the AT&T Center's AC is still malfunctioning during Game 2 on Sunday.
"We're not making any excuses for it," Spoelstra said. "It was an extreme, unfortunate situation for both teams. It probably won't happen again, ever. Now, we might have to deal with the absolute opposite in Game 7, who knows. It will be 55 degrees in the arena, unless they don't get it fixed, which if they don't, there should be a fine."
Such a fine would be unprecedented in recent league history, but Spoelstra's frustration with what he called "Crampgate" was understandable. The Heat blew a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter to lose 110-95, as LeBron James was sidelined down the stretch with leg cramps.
The Spurs issued an apology during Game 1 for the AC issues, attributing the source of the problem to an electrical failure. On Friday, the Spurs released a second statement saying that the AC system had been "repaired" and that Game 2 would be played under normal conditions.
“The electrical failure that caused the AC system outage during Game 1 of the NBA Finals has been repaired,” a Spurs statement read. “The AC system has been tested, is fully operational and will continue to be monitored. The upcoming events at the AT&T Center, including the Romeo Santos concert tonight, the Stars game on Saturday night and Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday, will go on as scheduled.”
High temperatures in San Antonio this week have topped 90 degrees. It was uncomfortably hot inside the AT&T Center during Game 1, as players received extra liquids, ice and cold towels to try to moderate their body temperatures.
"It's like trying to play an NBA basketball game in a hot yoga environment," Spoelstra said of Game 1. "It's not ideal. We're not making excuses for it, we're trying to adapt on the fly and it was at an extreme level."
NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn acknowledged that the gym was "warm" during a post-game press conference on Thursday but insisted that the conditions in the arena were safe.
However, National Basketball Players Association acting executive director Ron Klempner told Bloomberg News that the playing conditions were "completely unacceptable."
James scored 25 points in 33 minutes before he left the court hobbling and with the help of his teammates. After the game, he received an IV that caused him to miss his standard post-game media session, telling a pool reporter that he felt "frustration and anger" at not being able to play down the stretch.
On Friday, James said that his body "shut down" during the fourth quarter, but added that he expected to be 100 percent healthy for Game 2 even though he still felt "pretty sore." He also echoed Spoelstra's comments about the temperature during Game 1.
"They were some extreme conditions," James said. "I've never played an NBA game like it was last night as far as the heat. Not an excuse but it was an extreme condition. I looked at the stands at one point and I saw every last fan waving fans ... and I knew at that point, this is something different."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sheepishly said Thursday that San Antonio would try to "pay our bills" by Sunday so that the air conditioning could be restored for Game 2. A day later, he was making light of the advantage gained by the Spurs during James' absence, joking that he would impede the AC repair effort.
"All I know is that I saw all the air conditioning people in the hallways on my way out last night and I sent them home," Popovich quipped.