LeBron James is, by almost all accounts, the most formidable player in the NBA. But Thursday night, during game 1 of this year’s NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, he proved that even a player of his stature and athleticism is no match for…faulty air conditioning.
Temperatures at the AT&T Center in San Antonio reached 90 degrees after the building’s air conditioning went down. At the tail end of four quarters of high-intensity competition, James was felled by leg cramps so severe that the 6’8″ 250 lb forward had to be carried off the court.
The impact on the Heat was immediate: a close game quickly became a late rout for the Spurs, who went on a 21-7 run to put away the defending champs. All James could do was watch from the sideline.
Unpredictable circumstances are a part of every sport, but it isn’t often that a maintenance problem takes the sport’s most famous player off the court at a pivotal point in the game. So the question is, was the AC failure preventable?
+ Electrical Preventive Maintenance
Various news reports attribute the AC failure to a problem with the electrical system, but don’t generally offer much detail. In trying to determine whether the problem was preventable, however, the specifics may not be all that important.
According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), electrical components that do not receive regular preventive maintenance are three times likelier to fail. Given these odds, it may be possible that the maintenance professionals at the AT&T Center performed regular preventive maintenance on the facility’s electrical systems, but probably more likely that they didn’t.
This doesn’t necessarily imply gross negligence on the part of AT&T Center staff–preventive maintenance on electrical systems is often poorly understood or neglected. One thing that is clear, however, is that these preventive maintenance practices should be more widely adopted.
+ Basic checks
Two of the most common causes of electrical outages are loose parts and connections, and exposure to moisture. Both can be easily addressed through regularly scheduled checks.
Multimeters can be used to check voltage levels and spot issues early before they develop into bigger problems. Annual inspections of wiring can also identify early signs of damage and wear.
These are just a few examples, but they are relatively simple and easy to perform. Not every electrical failure will be as high-profile as the one that affected the outcome of last night’s game, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any less damaging.
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