If you think dehydration isn’t a big deal in athletics, have a quick conversation with Matthew Dellavadova, Gary Woodland, or LeBron James. Both Woodland and Dellavadova were recently sent to the hospital to recover from severe dehydration, and LeBron watched his performance suffer late in games as he pushed his body to the limit in the NBA Finals. Oh, and James may also mention the time he was carried off the floor in San Antonio because of cramping and dehydration.
Gary Woodland. Photo: GolfWRX
Dehydration is one of the most overlooked and often dismissed ailments in athletics. It’s the silent destroyer of high-level performance. Everyone knows that extreme exercise and/or athletic activity can lead to dehydration, and most people realize that dehydration can be dangerous, but 9 out of 10 people don’t understand the effects dehydration has on your body and your performance.
After Game 3 of the NBA Finals, everyone was lauding the Cavaliers Matthew Dellavadova’s gritty play, his defensive tenacity against Steph Curry and his hustle and hard work. Yet "Delly" as he is nicknamed, had a major issue on the horizon. He had worked so hard that his body was failing him, and after that Game 3 victory, he found himself in the hospital recovering from a severe case of dehydration and cramping. His take on the situation, “No more pre-game black coffee.”
What? That’s it? No more coffee?
He can’t be serious, just dismissing a bout with dehydration by saying he’ll eliminate black coffee? But it speaks to the lack of understanding of hydration and performance, even at the highest level. After leaving the hospital, Dellavadova's minutes played and production fell off the table, and his shooting percentage plummeted to 19%. He was a shell of his former self, and the Cavaliers lost every game from that point on.
Poor Gary Woodland had to endure a similar fate this weekend at the US Open. After battling a virus earlier in the week, Woodland decided to “give it a go” on Thursday’s first round. He opened with a front nine 36, even par, but as the day wore on and his body began to falter, Woodland bogeyed four straight holes (his 13th-16th of the day), and spent the night in Tacoma General Hospital recovering from dehydration. He valiantly returned the next day, but his performance was significantly affected. His accuracy dropped in every aspect of his game, and he physically struggled through his second round to post a 77 and missed the cut.
And then there is LeBron. I consider LeBron to be the greatest basketball player of all time. His skill set is unmatched, his athleticism unparalleled, and his defense unrivaled. But talent can only take you so far, and his body just couldn’t keep up with what was required of him in this year’s Finals. At the end of every game, it was apparent he just couldn’t give anymore, and the injuries that decimated Cleveland’s roster proved too much of an obstacle to overcome. His production was legendary, but his performance clearly dropped off late in games as the series wore on.
LeBron played 275 out of a possible 300 minutes in the NBA Finals, by far the most of any player on either team. When the Warriors were substituting fresh players, LeBron was in the game. When Curry entered the game refreshed and ready in the 4th quarter, LeBron was dragging, weighed down by the burden of being Mr. Everything for the Cavs.
Other than a tied second half in Game 2 (48-48), the Warriors outscored the Cavaliers in the second half of EVERY single game. Curry played fewer minutes than LeBron, scored less than LeBron, had fewer assists, and fewer rebounds. But he bested LeBron in one key statistic: 4th quarter scoring. When the game was on the line, Curry’s freshness shined through. In fact, with the exception of a few wild 3-pointers by JR Smith in the closing moments of Game 6, the fourth quarters were dominated by Golden State.
LeBron James during the Finals. Photo: Interbasket.net
I applaud LeBron for his efforts this year, however, after the Finals were over I was left thinking of what could have been had he been just a little more hydrated at the end of the game. We can only speculate as to how the deciding minutes would have turned out, but one thing we can't deny is the minutes played after he rehydrated were more productive then the final four of every game when he was spent.
The irony of it all is that nearly the entire Cleveland Cavaliers team wore meaningless gold Full Arm Sleeves, and Gary Woodland passed by numerous potential recharging stations on his walks between holes - when all of them could have, no should have been benefiting from our Wearable Hydration Technology. The future is here, and dehydration finally has an adversary it won't easily defeat.