After cramps sidelined LeBron James late in last night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals, he has been taking heat (no pun intended) from all sides.
But cramps can have a devastating effect on even the greatest of athletes. Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson can tell you that from experience.
The six-time champ, along with his fellow NASCAR drivers, constantly has to keep up with hydration in order to combat the sweltering conditions inside the race car.
When they don’t (or can’t), it can lead to big problems like the one Johnson experienced during a GRAND-AM sports car event at Daytona International Speedway in 2007.
That race took place during the Coke Zero 400 weekend at DIS, and as he was going between his GRAND-AM and Sprint Cup duties, Johnson fell behind on keeping hydrated.
“We had an electrical problem that took out the drink system in the car,” Johnson recalled today at Pocono Raceway. “And I had to pit maybe 10 minutes before it was time, because I couldn’t push the brake pedal hard enough to get it stopped – I missed the chicane on the backstretch.”
Johnson was able to reach the pits and promptly tried to cool himself down and took some fluids. But that did not prevent him from experiencing what he called a “full-body cramp” that had him crumple to the floor of his motorhome.
“I wish I had a picture of what I looked like – I’m telling you, every muscle in my body locked up,” he said.
Forced to knock his phone off a nearby table, Johnson was able to call Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, whose own motorhome was next door.
Gordon didn’t answer the first time, but luckily he called back and promptly headed over to help Johnson.
“When he came in my bus, it took him two or three minutes to stop laughing at me,” Johnson said. “And then he got me to the care center. Three IV bags later, I felt like myself again.”
Unlike James, however, Johnson was at least lucky enough to have his cramping issues while he wasn’t competing.
As a side note, Johnson appeared to defend the basketball icon this morning on Twitter after noting that he needed to “get some Gatorade in his life“: