SAN ANTONIO – After LeBron James was carried off the court with cramps in the critical closing minutes of the opener of the 2014 NBA Finals, he instantly became a target for critics. Not the least of which was the company that supplies the very product many athletes use to help fight dehydration:
@ryanbkoo The person cramping wasn't our client. Our athletes can take the heat.— Gatorade (@Gatorade) June 6, 2014
James is an endorser of competitor Powerade, and the people running Gatorade's official Twitter account took great pride in pointing out the distinction after James couldn't return to the game.
And Gatorade continued trolling James…
@OfficiallyRandy Thanks, Randy. We've been hydrating all day. We never cramp.— Gatorade (@Gatorade) June 6, 2014
Gatorade apologized Friday for the comments posted to the company's Twitter feed. "Our apologies for our response to fans' tweets during [Thursday] night's Heat vs. Spurs game," the company said in a statement. "We got caught up in the heat of the battle. As a longtime partner of the Miami Heat, we support the entire team."
James took his own dig at Gatorade Friday after the criticism. "I really don't care what people say about me, I don't care about that sports group, the drink group that – I'm not even going to say their name," James said. "I'm not going to give them a light in the Finals. This is about the Spurs and the Heat, and it's not about everybody else, man. I don't care."
James had to ask out of the game three times because of cramps, which were brought on by 90-degree temperatures on the court after the AT&T Center's air conditioning stopped working. James tried to return with about 3½ minutes left, but was told by coach Erik Spoelstra to stay on the bench.
"The best option for me to do was not to move," James said. "I tried, and any little step or nudge, it would get worse. It would lock up worse and my muscles spasmed 10 out of 10."
Powerade's official Twitter account saluted James earlier in the game when he joined Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players to reach 4,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists for their postseason careers.
James, despite Powerade's hashtag encouragement, could not power all the way through. Gatorade likely has a theory or two why.