Opinion: Brutal conditions for NBA Finals Game 1

SAN ANTONIO - I’ve certainly attended hotter sporting events than Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night.

I’m a Texan. We do heat. We embrace it. We drink iced tea, sometimes with the emphasis on ice.
But an outdoors Super Bowl or a World Series are sporting events where we go in thinking conditions are a factor.

Go to a baseball game in July and you’re getting toasted. But when you head out for 100-degree baseball you know what you’re in for.

There was nobody to warn me of this heat wave inside AT&T Center, however. Everything felt normal when I arrived. It was cool enough on the elevator.

So early on during Thursday’s game I didn’t even want to Tweet about the heat. I was up in section 216 near the top. I thought maybe heat rises as my colleagues and I could stand a little discomfort.

But we started looking around. The fans nearest us began to fan themselves. We asked each other, do you think they can feel this heat down on the court.

The consensus in the first half was, “no, they’re used to hard practices where the air may not be turned up full blast.”

If you’re on social media, you saw the #SOCHIPROBLEMS where the media covering the Olympics lodged complaints. I was on the media bus hearing spoiled media brethren whine about how spread out things were as they took a short air-conditioned ride to a free dinner, a free concert and were paid to watch exciting basketball.

Nobody wants to hear that. And so those of us stuck in the rafters Thursday, who aren’t part of the elite national media, wanted to be slow to complain.

But by 9 p.m. Thursday my neighbor for the night in 216 was stripping down to his T-shirt. We hadn’t all planned that far ahead. By the second half you could tell everyone was hot and using anything they could to fan themselves. There were still high-fives among fans but hugging was out.

I wasn’t on the floor, so I can’t speak to how it was during the game, but the NBA said the court stayed dry. Underneath in the workroom area it was very slippery and I’m surprised a bunch of guys like me who aren’t as agile as we once were didn’t take a tumble.

There are many who will remember playing summer league basketball at gyms that lacked air conditioning. The AT&T Center had that kind of heat by the time the game was over Thursday night. Summer league heat! And that’s a little unexpected behind the beautiful banner of “The Finals.”

Tim Duncan had never experienced anything like this as a pro. He thought a while and then said he hadn’t played in “anything like that since I left the (Virgin) Islands.”

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