SAN ANTONIO During Shane Battier's high school days in Beverly Hills, Mich., the rising young basketball star experienced a pain like no other he had felt after the latest round of AAU games and near-nonstop competition.
Spurs wish LeBron James cramp criticism would stop
He got a cramp, one that came out of nowhere long after midnight and led to his mother carrying him into the bathtub full of hot water where it would eventually subside. There was one major difference between Battier then and Miami Heat star LeBron James on Thursday night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Cramps are no joke, Battier told USA TODAY Sports. There's nothing you can do. Your body shuts down. Debilitating cramps where your leg locks? You can't do anything about it.
As the chorus of clowns continued to criticize James leading into Sunday's Game 2, it became increasingly clear that they're willfully ignoring all the evidence that contradicts the controversy around him. Everywhere you turned these past few days, people who know of what they speak made it clear that toughness or sheer will was not part of the equation here.
San Antonio Spurs big man Tim Duncan shook his head at a question of whether James should have played through it, then made it clear that there's no way to shake it off.
Tim Grover, the renowned personal trainer for Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, scoffed at a comparison between their famed flu-games and the idea that James could overcome the rock in his leg to keep competing on that sweltering night.
Hall of Famer Karl Malone tweeted that James' critics needed to shut up unless they'd experience a cramp like the one he went through. Doctors were extensively quoted by reporters who provided medical insight on the matter and said that cramps will always win in this kind of wrestling match.
I just am (an easy target), James said. I don't know (why). Because I've been in front of the camera and the camera has been in front of me since I was 15 years old. You guys have seen everything from me, from being an adolescent kid just playing the game of basketball because he loves it as a hobby, to now playing as a professional, to succeeding, going to the top, to falling off the mountain, to going up to the top again.
You guys have seen everything that my life has had to offer since I was a 15‑year‑old kid... So I think that has a lot to do with it. Half of my life I've been in front of this, so it makes me an easy target.
The Spurs would prefer that everyone lay off of LeBron, of course, as they know as well as anyone that fueling his fire is never a good idea. James was good in Game 1 but far from great, finishing with 25 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. He spent all the talking time in between games being candid about his critics in ways that may prove to be cathartic, and it should surprise no one if he returns to his transcendent ways as a way of responding to all this unnecessary noise.
I don't think LeBron cares about all the media stuff, Spurs guard Tony Parker said. I think he just wants to win a championship and he plays for his family, the city of Miami, and his teammates. He's very strong mentally. I don't worry about him. I think he's going to be great (in Game 2), 100% and he's the best player in the world. So I don't think he cares about that.
He may not care like he used to, but that doesn't change the fact the silliness surrounding him should stop.
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