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LeBron James and Dwyane Wade celebrate in the second half of Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 20, 2013 in Miami, Florida.
Even though MVP LeBron James is in top physical condition, this grueling series took a physical toll on this elite athlete.
Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said James probably lost 12 to 15 pounds in the 2013 playoff run.
"That's really muscle break down more than body fat," said Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of UHealth Sports Medicine. "This is a guy with very little body fat. You're really taking about extreme exertion."
Even the King of the Court realizes he needs a break.
"I need to rest my body, I do," James announced after winning Game 7. "And as much as I love working out, and as much as I love getting better, I think the smartest thing to do is to rest my body."
Kaplan, the team doctor for the University of Miami football team and the Miami Marlins, said it's difficult for a player like James to completely turn off the need to stay active.
"The elite athletes do something called active recovery, massage and light bike and maybe a yoga class, or different types of things that they're into" Kaplan said.
And then there's Dwyane Wade -- playing hard with an injury.
"The more that I know from a medical perspective, the more you just respect anyone who has that kind of hunger," Kaplan said.
Spoelstra said Wade had a deep bone bruise and it wouldn't get better unless he took time off.
Kaplan explained the injury is not a fracture, but Wade was probably playing in pain.
"There's swelling in the bone or blood in the bone and it's painful," Kaplan said. "It can be very limiting. Your body is trying to shut you down because it doesn't want to hurt itself."
Kaplan credits the Heat training staff for keeping the NBA's #1 team in condition to play under extreme circumstances.
Now it's time for the team to take several nights of long, uninterrupted sleep so they can come back strong next season.
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