The air conditioning was out in the AT&T Center in San Antonio tonight, and on-court temperature reached over 90 degrees. Lebron James was carried to the bench with several minutes remaining, unable to move due to cramps. It looks like the Spurs won by dumb luck and pure coincidence. That couldn't have been further from the truth: the Spurs were the ones who in crunch time stepped up, adapted to the conditions, and won the game.
I am a golfer by trade. Sometime you get screwed a bit by getting an unfavorable tee time, while someone else misses some wind or bad weather because of when they teed off. But in almost all circumstances in golf, everyone has to play the same course. That impossible pin placement on number 2? Everyone has to deal with it. The hard fairways on the back side? Same for everyone. The slick greens, the deep bunckers? Same for every man or woman that tees it up that day. Which is one reason I love golf- the corse can be the great equalizer. Each golfer is out there playing the same course, and whoever plays the best that day will win.
Golf is also a game where you have to adapt to the circumstances as they happen. Wind direction can switch, temperature can change, or a sudden rain shower can come up. All of these have to be delt with, and everyone has to deal with them. Yeah, you could get lucky every once in a while like I said, and miss some bad weather due to a favorable statarting time. But I believe that it all evens out over a career.
For all intents and purposes though, golf is played on a level playing field- with every player having to deal with the same elements and issues that day. And whoever can overcome them will win. It's about as simple as that.
Golf is played outside, and no two courses are even close to the same. That's is one thing that seperates golf from other sports, is that no two days are ever going to be the same. But the great thing about sports is the concept of the equal playing field. In sport in general, you have two opponents or opposing teams, competing for supremacy on a single predetermined area. In some cases, it's a whole group of people like in NASCAR or golf, but it's still the same. The playing field is equal. The competition level and rules of the major American sports have changed over the years, making many statistics and players tough to compare from generation to generation.
But on any given night, when two basketball teams take the court, it's the same old game on the same old court. Home court advantage affects the atmosphere and crowd noise, which can minorly change the course of a game. But the teams still have to play one-on-one, man-to-man, with one team going home the champion.
Part of being a great golfer is, like I said, is adapting to the circumstances. And this ability to adapt can be shown through an infinite amount of examples in many different sports. Tonight, the Spurs were the team that adapted to the circumstances. There's no doubt that the temperature and air conditioning affected the game. But it was the same for both sides. These are the top 1% of the worlds top athletes. These guys are the best of the best. And they are are shockingly fragile when the air conditioning goes out. Lebron James did not hydrate himself properly- he was simply deyrdated at he end of the game and his body cramped up. Tim Duncan who's as old as the earth was out there in the 4th quarter competing at the high level, and there's no reason Lebron can't do the same.
The media will put an asterisk by this game, saying the heat would have won with Lebron down the stretch if there was air. But Lebron went out because he had cramps and wasn't hydrated properly. He didn't adapt to he situation, as the Spurs did. The Heat didn't adapt to having to play four minutes without their superstar. The Spurs were the best team on the court tonight, regardless of the temperature in the AT&T Center. The Spurs deserved to win this game. They finished the game on a 31-9 run. They hit all the clutch shots at the end. This was a team victory. I promise the media will treat this like it was a travesty that the Heat didn't win, and they would have prevailed if it wasn't for the air. But this game bodes very well for the Spurs. Their chances at a title look very good- they are one game closer from bringing the championship back to Texas. But don't think Lebron and the Heat won't go down without a fight... They might just need to take a dip in the Rio Grande to cool off first.
Game 2: Sunday June 8th, 8:00, ABC, San Antonio Texas.
Spurs lead the series 1-0.