Should Game 1 of the NBA Finals have even been played Thursday?
With the temperature near 90 degrees in the Spurs home arena, it’s a question worth asking. And apparently the league actively considered how to proceed in the unusual heat.
NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn:
What you are looking for is to make sure that the conditions on the court are fine, and in this case there was no one slipping. Once the game starts, it’s in the hands of the referees. Had the referees felt at any time or had I felt at any time ‑‑ I was sitting the second row midcourt ‑‑ were such that the game shouldn’t be continued, then they would have come over and said something to me. Never did, I never said anything to them regarding the fact that the game should be cancelled.
You know, again, in live sporting events, sometimes things transpire that you don’t expect. Obviously the conditions were the same for both teams, and it’s just one of those unfortunate things.
The National Basketball Players Association didn’t find that explanation good enough.
Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg (hat tip: James Herbet of Eye on Basketball)”
Klempner is probably correct that the NBA should have communicated better with the players and their representatives. Thorn and the referees shouldn’t unilaterally make a decision that puts players at risk in their workplace.
And they should have considered more than just whether or not the floor was slick. The extreme temperature also increased the players’ risks of other maladies like heat exhaustion and cramping, the latter of which hit LeBron James hard.
All said, the game should have been played. As Thorn noted, conditions can’t be perfectly set during live events. Competing athletically at that level carries an inherent risk, and though the heat increased the risk, it probably didn’t extend it beyond an acceptable level.
But the players union probably should have had more voice in that decision, even if the conclusion would have been identical to reality.