UPDATE: Gatorade has apologized for its remarks making fun of the Powerade endorser for getting cramps. "Our apologies for our response to fans' tweets during last night's Heat vs. Spurs game,'' Gatorade said in a release. ''We got caught up in the heat of the battle. As a longtime partner of the Miami Heat, we support the entire team.'' Meanwhile, it seems like LeBron James was drinking Gatorade at the game in any case.
Gatorade is making waves for mocking Powerade endorser LeBron James' cramps during the Miami Heat's loss to the San Antonio Spurs during Game 1 of the NBA Finals last night.
A malfunctioning air conditioning system drove temperatures to a steamy 90-plus degrees inside the Spurs' home arena of AT&T Center in San Antonio Thursday night. No player was more impacted than King James. Due to continuing leg cramps, the four-time MVP pulled himself out of the game in the fourth quarter. The Spurs cruised on to a 110-95 victory.
As millions of TV viewers watched a cramping James sitting out with ice packs on his legs and neck, the fun began on Twitter.
@LazyBumDrew we were waiting on the sidelines, but he prefers to drink something else.— Gatorade (@Gatorade) June 6, 2014
@ryanbkoo The person cramping wasn't our client. Our athletes can take the heat.— Gatorade (@Gatorade) June 6, 2014
Gatorade's bon mots set off a debate on Twitter.
Some applauded the company's witty responses as smart, real-time marketing. "Gatorade got the last laugh," said one. Another accused Gatorade of have a ghostwriter in Michael Jordan.
MJ was tweeting under that Gatorade account.— Lo (@Loran_Fla) June 6, 2014
But others complained that Gatorade's attempt at real-time marketing was just a cheap shot at an injured athlete. On Friday morning, the debate continued on Twitter, as people tweeted and retweeted Gatorade's responses.
Gatorade's jibe struck a chord because Mr. James, despite winning two straight NBA titles, still carries the burden of being a superstar who can't handle the heat in big moments. Before winning his first title, he was sarcastically dubbed "The King without a Ring" and "The Frozen One" by ESPN bomb-thrower Skip Bayless for his tendency to freeze up in the fourth quarter.
Powerade is owned by Coca-Cola while PepsiCo owns Gatorade, so the story has a bit of a Cola Wars feel to it for marketers. Throw in the fact that Mr. James' teammate Dwyane Wade endorses Gatorade, and the spat could come back for Game 2.
Mr. James plans to return for Game 2 of the Finals on Sunday. The Spurs say they should have the AC problem fixed by then.