Game one of the NBA Finals featured all of the Hot, Steamy Basketball Action that fans were looking for – just not in that conventional “boy, these guys are good!” type of way. It was the literal, “dude, I think the air conditioner broke – it must be 90 degrees in here!” type of way – because it did, and it was.
That’s right, the Spurs were able to overcome the HEAT – in more ways than one! Because “HEAT” is the name of the team they played and it was a tangible manifestation of the type of adversity a team must overcome on the road to a championship. It’s funny, you see – a form of wordplay. Go ahead, have a laugh.
Now that you’ve gathered yourself, I’d like to point out that although both teams faced the same conditions, the player who was most affected by these unique circumstances was the player that mattered most – LeBron James. Needless to say, the past 24 hours have not been kind to James from a social media standpoint.
Anywho, that got us here at KHTK Sports 1140 (a division of CBS Radio Sacramento) about some other examples in which the play on the court (or field, or rink, or pitch, or whatever) have been overshadowed by extreme conditions.
1. The Fog Bowl – December 31, 1988 – Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
Things were good at Soldier Field in Chicago until about the 2nd quarter, when the fog rolled in and turned a late December game between playoff contenders into one of the more unique stories that has ever come from the NFL. Visibility was reportedly reduced on the field to about 15-20 yards, and players complained that they couldn’t see the sidelines or first down markers.
Randall Cunningham still found a way to move the ball in the air, chucking it up 54 times for 407 yards. Cunningham, however, tossed three interceptions while failing to find the end zone.
Chicago ultimately emerged victorious by a 20-12 final in a game that Terry Bradshaw (who was broadcasting the game for CBS) said left him more frustrated than he had been at any time during his playing career.
2. Snowstorm Collapses Metrodome Roof – December 2010(
While this didn’t affect a game that was currently underway, the Vikings and Giants had to postpone their game in December of 2010 after a brutal snow storm ripped across the midwest and left enough snow on the roof of the Metrodome in Minneapolis that the inflatable roof failed and brought us a collapse that was more memorable than just about everything that has ever happened in that building for the Vikings. Civil Engineering failures usually result in memorable YouTubings, and this was no exception:
The Vikings and Giants moved their game to the following Monday, where it would be played at Ford Field in Detroit – 540 miles to the southeast of Minneapolis.
3. Super Bowl Blackout – February 3, 2013 – Super Bowl XLVII – San Francisco 49ers vs. Baltimore Ravens
This game was already brimming with story lines – brothers John and Jim Harbaugh coaching against each other; future Hall-of-Famer Ray Lewis playing in his final game; the 49ers riding young quarterback Colin Kaepernick to the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl appearance – and it was all overshadowed by a technical malfunction at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
Baltimore jumped out to a 28-6 lead in the third quarter before a partial power outage at the stadium, knocking out just enough of the lighting to postpone the game for thirty-four minutes. After play resumed, we all learned that the answer to the question, “how long does it take to plan an EPIC COMEBACK OF HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE?” is “slightly longer than thirty-four minutes,” as the 49ers were able to erase the deficit and be in a position to win the game with under two minutes left to play before turning the ball over on downs and falling to Baltimore, 34-31.
4. 1984 NBA Finals, Game 5 – June 8, 1984 – Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics – The Original Heat Game
San Antonio at least could claim technical difficulties – in 1984, air conditioning was not an option at the Boston Garden. Boston had been overtaken by a heat wave over the summer, and when the Lakers and Celtics squared off for Game 5, temperatures were around 97 degrees. Couple that with the east coast humidity, and you’ve got a 37-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sucking wind out of an oxygen tank on the sidelines. The Garden felt like a sweat shop, but Larry Bird was as cool as a breakdancing cop, dropping a smooth 34 points and 17 rebounds in leading the Celtics to a 121-103 victory.
5. Kings Part Owner Gregg Lukenbill Plugs Leaky Roof – March 1, 1989 – Sacramento Kings vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Arco Arena has become known in its later years as the NBA equivalent to playing basketball in a barn, with the building having been well outdated by league standards for the better part of the last decade. In 1989, however, Arco was just six months old. The Kings hosted the 76ers in an otherwise forgettable midseason bout – the Kings would go on to win 27 games that season – until a the roof sprung a leak with 9:43 left to play. Fans opened umbrellas (why would you take an umbrella to a basketball game??) and the officials stopped the game with the Kings clinging to a three point lead. Gregg Lukenbill, part owner of the Kings, played the hero as he scaled the rafters of the new arena and used a banner to divert the water away from the court. The Kings would blow a 24-point lead and go on to lose, 114-111.