LeBron James led all scores Thursday with 25 points, but the only thing NBA fans will remember--other than the 110-95 loss to the San Antonio Spurs--is how the Miami Heat forward left the game. What came next would be shocking if the athlete in question was anyone else but a "Decision" making, Air apparent, beast of a player, and even less shocking to any Washington Wizards fan.
With the AT&T Center reporting an above 90-degree temperature due to a broken air conditioner, James left Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals with 3:59 left in the fourth quarter. He battled a bout of cramps over a stretch of the fourth, but couldn't remain mobile no matter how hard he tried. These cramps resulted in a social media surge, which generated plenty of Lance Stephenson memes, some thoughts about women dealing with cramps, and how LeBron needs to "man up," and even some references to past LeBron criticism, such as his infamous "crab dribble," circa 2008-09.
In case you forgot how much the Washington Wizards disliked Mr. James back then, take a look at a team produced jab which was quickly removed from the Wizards' website. Keep in mind the team made this video, and you can't be too surprised to know that in 2014, LeBroning is a thing. Is it fair? No. But that's how the post-Michael Jordan era of basketball is, and that's how the media--and fans--handle the post-"Decision" LeBron James.
First let's take a deeper look into what a leg cramp means, and how it happens. One thing any athlete or fan of a sport should know is that a muscle can cramp due to lack of hydration and general fatigue, and when it happens, it can be the worst pain ever. In fact, the pain can be so severe that you'll be sore the next day, even 24 hours later. Not only did James get to that threshold, but he went back onto the court and scored a layup. Then add 90-plus degree heat, which further encourages dehydration, as well as a constant array of bigger bodies on the defensive end, like Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard, requiring James to exert the most energy out of any player on the court.
James scored 23 of his game-high 25 points after three quarters despite all of the obstacles in his way, against one of the best defensive teams in the league. The dude put in some work. Is it really that strange how he was the only one who received the meme-treatment? In the post-Jordan, post-Decision world, no. But is it fair? At the end of the day, of course not. Yet here we are, and with the AT&T Center "fully operational" for Sunday, we'll see just how James responds to the latest--and possibly most vicious--line of attacks.