NBA likely to use Elam Ending in future All-Star Games; will discuss adopting in G League, in-season tourneys


The Elam Ending used in Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game can only be described as an unbridled success. A game usually marred by indifference produced one of the most competitive fourth quarters of the season, and the NBA wants to try to recapture that excitement moving forward. As such, Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president of league operations, told ESPN’s Zach Lowe that it is a “good assumption” that the league will continue to use the Elam Ending in All-Star Games moving forward. 

As a refresher, the ending’s format is based on scoring rather than time. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the clock was turned off and 24 points were added to the total of the leading team (on Sunday, that was Team Giannis, and the target score was 157). The first team to hit that mark, which was ultimately Team LeBron, wins the game. 

There could, however, be some minor tweaks. The biggest involves what the actual target score will be. The league reportedly considered 38 or 35 points before settling on 24 as a tribute to Kobe Bryant. Given typical All-Star scoring patterns, though, that target is relatively low. It will probably be higher next time around, according to Lowe. 

Another is eliminating the possibility of the game ending on a free throw, as it did Sunday. The league has considered removing points from the opposing teams on shooting fouls rather than giving free throws to the fouling team, or forcing the fouling team to remove the player who committed the foul from the game for a pre-determined number of possessions. 

As far as wider-spread adoption, the notion of potential use in other forms of competition is being discussed, according to Spruell, but nothing appears imminent. The G League would seem to be a natural environment for further exploration, but the league would prefer to keep the format of its games similar to the NBA’s in the interest of developing future NBA personnel there. Use in a potential in-season tournament has also been discussed, though one obviously does not exist at the moment. 

But minor compromises seem possible. The idea of using the Elam Ending in the G League Showcase, for instance, is a compromise that has been discussed. Though not mentioned, summer league would seem like another prime opportunity to test it out further. 

At the moment, that should be the NBA’s plan. Bringing the Elam Ending to regulation NBA games at the moment is unrealistic, but the league got a taste of how exciting the concept can be on Sunday. Exploring it further to see if replicating that excitement would be possible in the NBA should be considered a priority. 





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