Cut the Cramp: Why LeBron James Deserves a Break

Why the reaction to LeBron's Game 1 exit is the worst

LeBron James
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LeBron James
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Have you ever woken up at 3 a.m. with a cramp after a night of drinking? Sure you have.

Your sad and wretched body, pickled by Fireball shots and PBR tallboys, down to its most dehydrated and salted essence, is screaming at you, enraged by the trauma you have subjected it to. And it is determined to have its revenge, firing lasers into your calves. You grasp at them wildly, trying to quiet the lighting-bright pains, flailing in terrifying contortions while trying not to wake your companion, sleeping soundly beside you. Basically, it is the worst.

Flagrant 2: Spurs Beat the Heat in "the Air Conditioning Game"

Okay, you know the feeling. Now imagine trying to play basketball at the same time. Somehow, much of America seems to have forgotten this in the wake of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

As you've no doubt heard by now, San Antonio pulled off some typically Spursian old-man trickery, conspiring to have the air conditioning in the AT&T Center malfunction at just the right time, forcing LeBron James to lose approximately 10 gallons of fluids in the 90-degree heat, cramp up and miss the final 4 minutes of the game. During his time on the bench – grimacing in obvious pain and anger – the Spurs took advantage and turned the game from a nail-biter into a laugher.

Just like they drew it up, obviously.

Naturally, because the incident involved LeBron James – he of "The Decision" and the endless scorn of Skip Bayless and other inane suits who make a living mocking efforts of young men – much of the world took this opportunity to once again reiterate that LEBRON DOESN'T HAVE THE HEART OF A WINNER.

Take, for instance, this tweet from the aforementioned Bayless, perhaps the worst human on Earth:

That gem has been retweeted more than 19,000 times as of this afternoon. That is not a made-up number.

For further proof that humanity is doomed, simply do a Twitter search for "Lebron James is a pussy" and marvel at the rancid vitriol being spewed from the mouths of couch-ensconced dudes throughout this great land. There's also the rise of "LeBroning," a meme that gives people another chance to poke fun at LJ's misery. It's as hilarious as you'd expect.

Do we actually believe for a minute that Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant – those cold-hearted assassins collectively crowned as "clutch" in ways LeBron will never be – could have played through a cramp of their entire left leg?

People will point to Jordan's infamous "Flu Game" – where he battled a horrendous case of influenza and willed the Bulls to victory in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals – as evidence MJ would have played through a cramp. But that's ignoring the simple fact that a leg cramp is a wrench in the actual muscular mechanics of one's body, the kind of thing that prevents them from engaging in any sort of physical activity. You know, like playing professional basketball. A flu is something you can suffer through. Not being able to move your legs is not.

If you've ever had a late-night leg cramp, you know the feeling. Even Isiah agrees with us.

Meanwhile, Kobe, ever the gamer, used the opportunity to promote his line of sports drinks. And the media went into overdrive to dig up examples of other players who didn't wilt in similar situations. Oh, Larry Bird didn't cramp up 30 years ago? Great, but he did miss plenty of games at the end of his career, thanks to a back he first injured building a driveway for his mom. Also, folks conveniently forgot that James, despite missing much of the fourth quarter, still scored more points than anybody last night. Is that tough? The answer is unclear.

Is there any quantifiable measurement for "toughness?" Of course not. Has the NBA game changed considerably over the past three decades? Without a doubt. In short, these comparisons are an exercise in futility, not to mention stupidity. Let's give LeBron a break on this one. People are the worst ... having a healthy King James on the floor for Game 2 would be anything but.