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Sunday, June 8, 2014
Heat aim to keep LeBron cramp-free

By Marc Stein


SAN ANTONIO -- If LeBron James or any other player in these NBA Finals has further issues with cramping, they can take some comfort in the knowledge that the league has no restrictions against administering pregame or in-game intravenous fluids or the use of the "cramping pills" that James referenced after Game 1.

Such anti-cramping measures are generally sanctioned by all professional sports leagues in North America. IVs are utilized often during pro and college football games, for example, to help athletes combat heat while wearing so much equipment.

James said he took seven anti-cramping pills in addition to drinking extra electrolytes Thursday night as part of his futile attempts to ward off the cramps that limited him to just 37 seconds of court time in the final 7:31 of Miami's 110-95 loss to the Spurs in Game 1.

The pills, according to league sources, are an electrolyte and mineral mixture and possess no medicinal or performance-enhancing benefit.

Sources briefed on the situation told ESPN.com that the Heat went into Sunday with no plans to deviate from their usual protocol when it comes to keeping James hydrated, trusting their longstanding measures to combat James' history of cramping that they've relied on since a similar episode occurred during the 2012 NBA Finals.

The Heat regard what happened here Thursday night as an extreme situation, thanks to an electrical failure at the AT&T Center that caused the building's air conditioning to shut down and led to temperatures that climbed above 90 degrees on the court.

After the madness of Thursday night's fourth quarter, James was administered 2 1/2 bags of IV fluid to rehydrate.

"I did everything that I needed to do to prepare for this game, prepare for this moment and, you know, to feel like my body failed me last night, I was angry in the fact that I couldn't help my team get over the hump in a huge Game 1," James told reporters Friday at a Finals news conference.

James was also felled by cramps during Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals in Miami against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Sources say that the Heat have inevitably been flooded with numerous home-ready suggestions from fans after it happened against San Antonio, but Miami coach Erik Spoelstra insists that "our staff and LeBron's diligence has really taken care of that matter just in terms of his preparation before games [and] what he's doing during games in terms of always filling himself up with electrolytes, fluids, cramping pills when necessary.

"We have had minimal issues with it, and he's been able to handle it much better than before. [Game 1] was so extreme. That's the toughest part for people to understand. He was burning through his fluids and calories at an extraordinary rate, so about halfway through the first quarter we understood that this was a different environment."

The AT&T Center released a statement Friday insisting that the air-conditioning issues had been fixed and tested and would be fully operational for Game 2. Spoelstra countered by saying that the Spurs should be fined by the league if they can't get the building to an appropriate temperature for the rest of their home games in the Finals.