HOT TAKE ON HOT FINALS! SO HOT!
Per my normal morning routine, I put away all of the dry dishes in my dish rack, poured a bowl of cereal, and watched SportsCenter on ESPN for a few minutes before leaving for work. With last night’s 9:00 PM tip-off and after an exhausting week, there was no way I was staying awake for the entirety of last night’s Game 1 of the NBA finals. I made it through the first three-and-a-half quarters before finally succumbing to the sweet embrace of sleep and like everyone else watching and listening, I couldn't help but notice how miserably hot the inside of the AT&T Center was due to a broken air conditioner (90 degrees on the court…yuck).
I hate excessive heat. I enjoy Midwest living because of, among other things, the changing of the seasons. Right when I’m sick of the heat, Fall rolls in as a welcomed relief. After months of numb fingers and icy roads, Spring weather lifts my spirits. However, extreme heat is the worst. I can’t sleep when I’m dripping in sweat. During the winter, I can put more clothes on and cover myself in blankets to warm up. But in the summer, there’s only so much I can take off in public before having to go door-to-door to inform my neighbors of certain charges brought against me. So yes, I would have hated being present in the AT&T Center last night – watching or playing.
All that said, like most level-headed viewers, I understood that the miserable conditions were the same for both teams and didn't offer any sort of unfair advantage to either team (average June temperature for Miami is 77-87 degrees with a mean of 82; average June temperature in San Antonio is 73-92 with a mean of 82.5…thanks, Internet).
Back to SportsCenter this morning…
When watching the highlights of the game, I saw LeBron James come out a few times due to cramping before finally being carried off of the court with a few minutes to go in the fourth quarter in a two-point game. The Spurs, in the middle of a huge run to end the game, relentlessly attacked Miami and ended up winning by a comfortable margin.
No, LeBron is not a wuss. He’s one of the most incredible physical specimens that we will ever be able to see perform. He plays hard and fast when he’s on the court. He was on the court for 33 total minutes last night and that’s with sparse playing towards the end. Only Tony Parker (37 minutes) and Chris Bosh (34 minutes) played longer than LeBron (also, before you say that LeBron should have drank more water / Gatorade, read this). Keep in mind, this “praise” is coming from a Cleveland fan.
After the highlights, ESPN ran a video interview between NBA President of Basketball operations Rod Thorne and elitist NBA analyst Michael Wilbon in which Thorne made the point that conditions were playable and miserable for all involved. Wilbon then said something to the effect that no matter what, people are going to be talking about this tomorrow (today).
Well, Wilbon was right on the money when he said that people would be talking about this. It just seems that none of those people played / coached last night and most of those people work for ESPN.
Oh the stories. The side stories. And something else…the temperature was high…Miami’s team name is The Heat…pressure situations being described as hot…THE PUNS!!!!! I get it! French Class!!!!!!!!!!!
ESPN wasn’t the only sporting organization to discuss the broken air conditioner as well as the game. Fox Sports and CBS Sports each had separate stories concerning the game and the temperature. However, ESPN was the entity that beat that horse after it was dead, buried, and decomposed. Yes, the conditions were not comfortable. Yes, it would have been nice for a building hosting the NBA finals to have a working AC. But no, it wasn’t the biggest story of the night. The story was how the deep Spurs bench made it possible for a team full of players closer to retirement than their rookie years to overcome such conditions and win thanks to an incredible push down the stretch. The story was how the Spurs overcame incredibly sloppy play early to beat the defending champs in the opening contest of a finals rematch that basketball junkies needed to see. Focusing on the temperature and attempting to tie it to LeBron’s absence down the stretch is just a way to set up potential excuses / conspiracies / off-season debate material for ESPN itself (can’t wait for the hours of ESPN debate shows today talking about this one topic) should the Spurs win the series.
If the Spurs win this series, it will be because they are the superior team from top to bottom rather than their collection of international players used to playing in less-than-favorable conditions.