LeBron James' Leg Cramps Just the Latest Injury for Miami Heat
Mario Chalmers opened the preseason slowed by a high ankle sprain suffered in mid-July, and Carlos Arroyo and Eddie House were soon sidelined due to soreness. While Chalmers has been able to play through his injury, though not at 100 percent, it soon seemed like just about every reserve on the team was reporting some sort of ailment.
And then the unthinkable happened: LeBron James had to be taken out of the final 15 minutes of Tuesday's exhibition game against CSKA Moscow and was seen limping off the court directly into the locker room.
"I knew it was a cramp right off the bat," insisted James after the game. "I've had them plenty of times so I knew what it was."
Was training camp too strenuous? Did coach Erik Spoelstra push his players too hard, much like his mentor Pat Riley was infamous for? Is there really a tangible threat from Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's hex cast immediately after James' decision?
Perhaps. Or maybe the spotlight on this team shines so brightly that routine injuries that can normally occur as players try to get back into NBA shape are now being viewed more gravely simply because of the team's star power.
Regardless, the crowd at the AmericanAirlines Arena had already experienced one superstar going down with an injury in the first preseason game. Now it was happening all over again in the second home contest and the gasps were loud enough for James to take notice.
"You couldn't help but to hear it," he said. "Them seeing me grab my hamstring, I knew exactly what they thought, but I'm fine. I could be ready next game if I needed to play."
The temptation is to write off the injuries as a necessary evil during preseason, but the reality is that the Heat are losing valuable time learning to play together with so many new and integral players on board.
"They're not a concern at all," Chris Bosh claimed when asked if he was worried. "You have to just look at the picture as a whole. It's a very long season. We would like to hit the ground running, but you never know how it's going to be. We can't get too high or too low. Whatever happens you keep working and just work with what you have."
While time may heal all wounds, the Heat can't afford to sit back and rest while their rivals leapfrog them. If the ultimate goal truly is a championship, then home-court advantage throughout the playoffs is crucial to their success. For a team expected to do so much right out of the gate, the preseason has turned into a battle not against opponents but against their own body parts.