On LeBron James and what it’s like to live with debilitating muscle cramps

LeBron James suffered serious cramps during Game 1 last night leading to some of the dumbest sports takes of 2014. Because a guy who can’t move his legs isn’t tough, obviously. Cause that makes a whole lot of sense. Twitter was ripe with doctors and elite athletes who presumably wake up every morning with a 3-mile run instead of coffee and top it off with a 2-hour weightlifting session. It was social media at its worst. I’m convinced none of these folks have suffered a cramp in their life. Nor do they know how debilitating it can be.

LeBron James cramps

I have CIPN which sounds a whole lot better than chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy. You know that pins and needles feeling you get when your foot falls asleep? Yeah, I have that all the time. It’s crappy but it’s something I’ve learned to deal with. Unfortunately, CIPN also causes muscle cramps and boy are they awful. And fluids and potassium—yeah, it doesn’t make a difference. I could have a Gatorade PICC line for God’s sake and I’d still cramp up.

It’s led to some embarrassing situations for me. Two days ago, I was at the gym shooting baskets when a spasm in my calf sent me to the floor. I tried to fight it off but ultimately laid on the ground writhing in pain. After a few minutes, a gentleman walked into the court area and asked me if I was ok. “Just cramps man. Need a few minutes”, I said. “You should eat bananas bro”, he replied. I smiled and said thanks, secretly giving him the finger from the depths of my soul.

After about 20 minutes, I was finally able to get up. TWENTY GODDAMN MINUTES!

About 6 months back, I slipped on some ice while getting out of my car. As I tried to balance myself, a spasm struck me in the mid-section like a bolt of lightning. My body went rigid. I dropped my keys and my water bottle went flying. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t bring my body back into the car—and it was damn cold outside.

So there I was, just leaning up against the car—looking like the freakin’ Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. “OIL CAN. DOES SOMEBODY HAVE AN OIL CAN?” Finally, a good Samaritan came by, reached underneath my car to retrieve my keys, eased me into the backseat.

Some 40 minutes later I drove away from the parking lot. FORTY GODDAMN MINUTES!

LeBron James cramp

My point in all this is pretty simple. Cramps are nasty. Cramps are debilitating. Cramps make it so you can’t walk, or run down a court, or you know, finish a basketball game. LeBron doesn’t have CIPN, I get that. But he’s clearly more prone to cramps than his peers. Maybe it’s a diet issue, I don’t know. I don’t have LeBron’s CBC and chem panel to tell you for sure.

What I do know is that he’s not any less tough today than he was a week or a year ago. My opinion of LeBron hasn’t changed because you know, he couldn’t bend his legs. If yours changed because of last night’s incident, you should probably reevaluate how stupid you are. I mean that sincerely.

Have a nice day,


Photos via USATODAYSPORTS/Bob Donnan