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Basketball: James's cramps become hot issue, Gatorade apologises

For the first three rounds of the playoffs, LeBron James ran roughshod over the competition, barging through defences like child's play and picking up field goals like they were on sale at bargain prices.

SAN ANTONIO: For the first three rounds of the playoffs, LeBron James ran roughshod over the competition, barging through defences like child's play and picking up field goals like they were on sale at bargain prices.

So the Miami Heat was shocked when the two-time reigning NBA finals Most Valuable Player was immobilised by leg cramps and unable to even take a baby step forward late in the fourth quarter of Thursday's tightly-contested game one of the finals.

"It felt like a punch in the gut when you see your leader limping like that back to the bench," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

James was still feeling the effects of the leg cramps when he met with reporters Friday, revealing that he got very little sleep the night before after doctors treated his dehydration and leg cramping with an intravenous drip and salt tablets.

"I am pretty sore right now from the muscle spasms," said James, but insisting he will be fine for Sunday's game two.

"I got two and a half bags of IV last night. So obviously I got no sleep."

The top-seeded San Antonio Spurs took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series by beating the two-time reigning champion Heat 110-95 on Thursday.

But all the talk on Friday was about the failed air conditioning system which caused temperatures to soar to more than 30 degrees Celsius (90 Fahrenheit) inside the AT&T Centre.

That created huge difficulties for the players, especially James, who has had a career-long problem with staying hydrated in sweltering conditions like Thursday's game.

"It was extreme conditions. I never played an NBA game like that with the heat. I looked in stands and saw every last fan with a fan waving it, and I knew this was something different," James said.

"I sweat a lot... This used to happen to me a lot in high school. I (have) been tested for it."

James has taken some heat in social media circles for checking out of game one late in the fourth quarter.

American sports drink company Gatorade mocked him on their twitter feed and then apologised and fans using the hashtag #Lebroning are posting pictures of themselves on Twitter pretending to have leg cramps.

Gatorade is the official sports drink of the NBA since 1984, but James endorses their competitor Powerade.

Gatorade deleted the tweets Friday and then said it was sorry.

"Our apologies for our response to fans' tweets during last night's Heat vs. Spurs game," Gatorade said in a statement.

"We got caught up in the heat of the battle. As a long-time partner of the Miami Heat, we support the entire team."

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