Brand fights are the worst of all fights, Gatorade's sustained trolling of LeBron James's cramps due to a supposed lack of proper hydration lacked some pretty key context: James had been drinking Gatorade all night.
Yes, James has an endorsement deal with Powerade. But that doesn't trump Gatorade's sponsorship with the NBA, for which it pays a reported $18 million a year to be the association's "official sports drink." Because of that deal, players on the bench have only two beverage options during games: water and Gatorade.
So, despite Gatorade tweeting that "our athletes can take the heat," cameras captured an ailing LeBron James lustily drinking lemon-lime Gatorade in a desperate and futile attempt to get back into the game. The footage aired on ESPN this morning—we're trying to find video, but plenty of screenshots were captured:
The NBA understands that its own sponsorship deals may clash with individual players'. So what it allows James to do is to remove the label from his Gatorade bottles (and also to use blank white towels, instead of the standard ones with Gatorade logo).
Here's a photo from last year that shows what's clearly a Gatorade bottle (Powerade's are ribbed).
Gatorade apologized for its Tweets today, in a statement reading:
"Our apologies for our response to fans' tweets during last night's Heat vs. Spurs game. We got caught up in the heat of the battle. As a longtime partner of the Miami Heat, we support the entire team."