LeBron James' cramping turned into a battle among sports drink companies on social media late Thursday night and into the morning.
Gatorade, which has been the official sports drink of the NBA since 1984, making it the league's longest-standing sponsor, has its name on cups, coolers and its product on the podium for every postgame press conference.
But, as fans questioned if the sports drink could have helped James, whose cramping resulted in him sitting out the final 3 minutes and 59 seconds of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Gatorade fired back on its Twitter feed, pointing out that James endorsed the competitor, Powerade.
@LazyBumDrew we were waiting on the sidelines, but he prefers to drink something else.- Gatorade (@Gatorade) June 6, 2014
- Gatorade (@Gatorade) June 6, 2014
@PrinceAmukamara You've always had good taste, Prince.- Gatorade (@Gatorade) June 6, 2014
The Powerade feed was silent other than this tweet earlier in the game congratulating their spokesman on a career milestone.
Gatorade apologized Friday for the comments and also deleted the tweets. The only tweet that Gatorade left on its feed related to the matter Friday had been posted late in Game 1, saying, "With a game this hot, we're right at home."
"Our apologies for our response to fans' tweets during (Thursday) 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."
While Gatorade took shots at Powerade, whose current tagline using James is "Got what it takes to keep up?," the truth is James actually drinks Gatorade on the bench. He takes the label off and uses blank white towels that don't have the Gatorade logo on them so as not to overtly endorse his competitor.
Gatorade's market share of the U.S. sports drink market, which had been hovering around 80 percent for decades, has been on the decline recently. In 2013, Gatorade had 69.5 percent of the U.S. sports drink market, while Powerade had 28.8 percent, according to industry trade publication Beverage Digest.