The air conditioning remained shut off. A star player appeared negatively affected by the conditions. And his opponent gleefully took advantage of the circumstances.
That about sums up the San Antonio Spurs’ 110-95 Game 1 victory over the Miami Heat, a game that featured a broken AC unit, LeBron James missed the last part of the fourth quarter because of cramps and the Spurs reeling off 16 of the game’s last 19 points. Similar circumstances happened in Game of the 1984 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Boston Celtics, a contest that featured such steamy conditions that it became dubbed “The Heat Game.”
The Lakers had entered the Boston Garden accustomed to the arena’s lack of air conditioning. But this time, it became too unbearable. That never-ending reality coupled with a Boston heat wave set up temperatures inside the building that CBS reported to be measured at 97 degrees, leading many central characters suddenly evaporating on the court.
The Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan reported referee Hugh Evans needed to stop at halftime due to dehydration. Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar needed to breathe out of an oxygen mask during stoppage time as he labored through a 7 of 25 performance. And with the Lakers lacking much from their star player, the Celtics largely benefited from Larry Bird posting 34 points on 15-of-20 shooting and 17 boards.
““I play in this stuff all the time back home,” Bird said, according to Pro Basketball Talk. “It’s like this all summer.”
Just as the Celtics and the Spurs resiliency, both the Heat and the Lakers melted.
“I suggest that you go to a local steam bath, do 100 pushups with all your clothes on, then try to run back and forth for 48 minutes,” Abdul-Jabbar said, according to NBA.com. “The game was in slow motion. It was like we were running in mud.”