Top NBA Finals moments: LeBron James cramps up, exits Game 1 of 2014 NBA Finals

With LeBron unable to play in the final 3:59 because of severe cramps, the Spurs finish on 31-9 run to win the opening game of The Finals.

LeBron James cramps up late in Game 1 of the 2014 Finals to help fuel San Antonio's win.

The Game: 2014 Finals, Game 1

The Series Situation: San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat tied, 0-0

The Play: In the middle of Game 1 of The Finals, the air conditioning at the AT&T Center gave out. The temperature rose and LeBron James was the player most affected. Suffering from cramps, James was subbed out multiple times in the second half, leaving the game for good with 3:59 left in the fourth quarter and the Heat within two. The Spurs finished the game on a 31-9 run, including a 16-3 stretch after James sat down.

The Significance: Historically, James’ cramps meant absolutely nothing. The Spurs were going to win this series no matter how he felt at the end of Game 1. They lost Game 2, but destroyed the Heat in Games 3, 4 and 5, finishing with the best point differential (plus-70) in Finals history and putting on the most beautiful display of team basketball that we’ve ever seen. If there was some significance to the last nine minutes of Game 1, it was about how potent an unselfish offense could be. San Antonio scored 30 points on their final 14 possessions of the game, shooting 12-for-14 and assist on 10 of the 12 buckets.

James’ cramping had little to do with that and was a distracting narrative for some to talk about for the next couple of days. Maybe they’ll bring it up again when it’s time to discuss his “legacy” and how many Finals he lost.

— John Schuhmann

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