The NBA All-Star Game was needed a change. While it was fun to watch the best basketball players in the world all compete against one another for one night of the season, it wasn’t that competitive. There was no defense being played, players were just out there essentially going through the motions while ensuring that they stay healthy and scoring as many points as possible. Then the Elam Ending came along, and one All-Star Game into this new era, it was a good change, one that everyone seems to love.
With the unfortunate passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, GiGi, and seven others in a helicopter accident three weeks ago, the NBA wanted to find yet another way to honor one of the greatest players to ever dribble a basketball. They did so perfectly, and in a way that has made the All-Star Game must-watch TV, at least the fourth quarter.
For those unfamiliar with the Elam Ending, it was created by Nick Elam in The Basketball Tournament.
The “Elam Ending”, devised by Ball State University professor Nick Elam, was first showcased in The Basketball Tournament. At the first whistle after the clock strikes four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the game clock is turned off completely. The two teams then play to a target score – as of 2019, eight points higher than the leading team’s score.
For the TBT, it made things much more fun and entertaining. Rather than games ending with one team running out the clock while the other continues to foul, it makes both teams still play on both ends of the floor while wasting time is nonexistent given that there isn’t a running clock.
For Sunday night’s All-Star Game, the NBA decided to honor Kobe again by having the Final Target Score be 24 points more than the leading score going into the fourth quarter. With Team Giannis leading Team LeBron, 133-124, whoever got to 157 first in the untimed final quarter would win.
Rather than the fourth quarter being like the first three, which consisted of very little defense, the final stanza was arguably the most competitive basketball the All-Star Game has ever seen. The defense. The arguing with referees. The coach’s challenges. The intensity. It seemed like a playoff basketball game, not an All-Star Game. That’s what made it so great. If you were on social media Sunday night, there wasn’t a negative thing being said about the new format, rather everything was positive. Fans were happy and excited. The players loved it. There was nothing bad about the Elam Ending, honestly.
Another great part of the Elam Ending: Every game ends with a winning shot. While Anthony Davis’ free throw may have been a lousy ending to a great game, imagine every game ending with a game-winner. Even in blowouts, it still happens. Rather than games coming to a slow, lousy end while one team uses all the shot clock and the other continues to foul their opponent, it still brings plenty of excitement and strategy no matter what the score is. Also, the new format would (and did) bring plenty of new strategies to the game as well. All of it is so, so good.
To say that the new Elam Ending was a success would be quite an understatement. It’s clear that basketball needs this across the board. The fact that the NBA All-Star Game as essentially the best one in decades tells you all you need to know. Hopefully, other basketball leagues take notice. The new Elam Ending shouldn’t be different it should be the new normal in basketball.