This past Thursday night, the San Antonio Spurs took the Miami Heat to task in a 110-95 victory. While it was a highly contested game, most of the talk following the game has been about Lebron James’ cramp and the lack of air conditioning inside the AT&T Center in San Antonio. Two days later, both controversies have not cooled. However, now former San Antonio Spurs nemesis Jason Terry has come out with a controversial and absurd claim that the air conditioning failure was intentional and set up by the Western Conference organization.
Jason Terry definitely has motivation to blame the Spurs for foul play in the first game of the 2014 NBA Finals. After all, during his eight years with the Dallas Mavericks, he was part of one of the more contested rivalries in the NBA, when his Mavericks played several contested series with the Spurs. During that time, the two teams played three series against each other, where Dallas beat San Antonio in only one of those matchups.
He backed up his assertion by stating that San Antonio is a very difficult arena to play in. Besides a very vocal hometown crowd, he claims intentional cold showers and thousands of flies being put in the opposing team’s locker room to gain the upper hand in the mental game previously. Additionally, he believes the poisonous snake found in the Trailblazers locker room prior to game two of the semi-final series this year, was also done on purpose to get into the heads of San Antonio’s opponents.
While Terry makes some intriguing arguments, it appears his talk is more based from heart than logic. First and foremost, the air conditioning problem was an issue for both teams. Without a doubt, a heated building that reached over 90 degrees at times is a problem for any athlete. It increases fatigue, especially breathing problems. It also becomes an issue with a more slippery court due to the sweat piling onto the hardwood. That said, the heat (no pun intended) is not the sort of thing that just affects the opposing team.
It may very well have dangerous effects on the opponent, however, those same disadvantages also affected the Spurs. As such, the air conditioning problem would even the playing field. Heat definitely has an effect on older players, but while Miami does have the top average for oldest team at 30.3 years of age, the Spurs are not far behind at fifth at 28.5. San Antonio also has two of the oldest players in Tim Duncan (38) and Ginobli (36). Needless to say, the air conditioning failure did nothing to give the advantage to the Spurs, and they certainly did not expect Lebron James to have cramps due to the technical problem.
As for the past history of the Spurs, it is possible that they have pranked other teams with cold showers, even with mild bugs in the locker room. However, it is highly suspect that the 4-time champs would purposely pit a poisonous snake in the locker room. If they did, they would be placing themselves front and center of a lawsuit, after putting opposing players in a life-threatening situation. Furthermore, if there was impropriety due to the snake, the Spurs organization would have been investigated. Alas, they were not.
As for the air conditioning failure, the problem occurred prior to game one of the NBA Finals. Reason for the problem was that there was an electrical failure throughout the building that, in turn, caused the AC outage. In order to prevent the problem for game two, San Antonio officials have repaired and successfully tested the system, which will be ready for Sunday evening’s game. There is no doubt that San Antonio is one of the more difficult arenas to play in due to some possible mind games, but they are also a classy organization. They are not going to put their championship hopes in jeopardy, nor are they going to risk lawsuits.
The supposed intentional air conditioning failure seems to be a claim that has no merit, and may just be Jason Terry expressing his view based upon his long-time rivalry with the San Antonio Spurs. Essentially, he is accusing the San Antonio Spurs of foul play due to his past history with them, nothing more. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what a game two holds that has an arena with proper air conditioning.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey