As crazy of an expectation as it was, many wanted LeBron James to suck it up and play through cramps.

Never mind that his quadriceps were spazzing out like a brat in the cereal aisle of Target. Many wanted James to respond to the moment by powering through it and leading the Miami Heat to victory in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

But really, Game 2 on Sunday is the time for James to respond.

Whatever he wants to prove about his toughness, about his clutchness, about his belonging in the realm of the game's greats, he needs to say it with his play moving forward. Certainly, his untimely cramps -- brought on by the broken air conditioning in San Antonio -- cost the Heat the series opener. But what still hangs in the balance is a chance for James to bully his way into legend status.

As a matter of fact, the cramp storyline makes it even more legendary, even more sensational, if he leads the Heat to an upset.

A win over these San Antonio Spurs is the kind of feather James doesn't have in his cap yet.

San Antonio is a legitimate Goliath. The Spurs have four Hall of Famers, the deeper roster, home court advantage and revenge motivations.

King James is usually fighting to live up to expectations. Especially since he bolted to Miami, hype has been his biggest enemy. Rarely is he the underdog. Not at this stage in a season.

But at the peak of his career, James finds himself in one of those rare opportunities. Especially after Game 1, the Spurs are the obvious favorites. And Miami's fourth-quarter collapse was striking evidence of how James is needed to carry this team.


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A triumph like this is exactly the jewel King James needs for his crown. He will have bested San Antonio's Big Three twice. On top of that, it will be a three-peat, feats accomplished by a rare few.

And the storyline of the cramps and the AT&T Center's wardrobe malfunction only adds to the lore. That might be enough to jack Kobe Bryant's spot on basketball's totem pole. If James responds.

  • Two players in the majors rank in the top 10 in wins above replacement for offense and defense. Two. None of them are the players who dominate the headlines. Not Puig. Not Cabrera. Not Trout.

    One is Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, a three-time All-Star. The other is A's third baseman Josh Donaldson, the self-proclaimed "worst player in baseball" a couple years ago.

    Donaldson hasn't merely had a good start to the 2014 campaign. He's on one of those wait-who-is-this-guy runs.

    He's been a beast on the road. In his first 32 away games, he batted .299 with 10 homers, 27 RBIs and a combined on-base and slugging percentage of 1.009. That's good, FYI.

    Donaldson is a lock to be an All-Star. He should be an early favorite for MVP. He's also entering that leave-for-Yankees-money territory.

  • California Chrome lost his bid for the Triple Crown. Co-owner Steve Coburn said afterward his competitors took the coward's way out, throwing fresh horses into the Belmont Stakes with the sole purpose of preventing a Triple Crown.

    Actually, the coward's way out is sour grapes.

  • Steve Kerr was expected to bring some advanced offense to the Warriors. According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Kerr is in talks with David Blatt, one of the most lauded international basketball coaches.

    Blatt, the coach for Maccabi Tel Aviv, is arguably one of the world's premiere offensive minds. If Kerr lands him as a top assistant, that would be a coup -- especially considering Blatt would be a legit head coaching candidate.

    Clearly, Kerr is serious about elevating the Warriors offense.

    Contact Marcus Thompson II at mthomps2@bayareanewsgroup.com.