NBA All-Star Game: LeBron James, other All-Stars praise Elam Ending format after thrilling finish

Fans couldn’t have asked for a better ending to the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. For the first time in years, the players involved seemed to truly care about the outcome of the game, and one of the biggest reasons for that appears to have been the new Elam Ending format. With a target score of 157 set at the end of the third quarter, both teams furiously raced to the finish with Team LeBron ultimately landing on top, 157-155, after a nine-point comeback. The reviews have been universally positive from those who watched the game, but what about those who played it in?

Unsurprisingly, the players involved were all big fans. LeBron James was the first player to voice his approval after the game. 

“I didn’t know what to expect because it was a new format, new year. None of us knew what to expect. But throughout the whole fourth quarter and at the end of the game, everybody was like, ‘That was pretty damn fun.’

That was fun. Having to play for a set number and seeing that — I’ve watched a lot of basketball in the summertime, and I forgot the name of the league where the guys, you know, their alma mater, they go back and play for their teams and things of that nature, they have a set number they have to get to that, that $2 million championship tournament. Maybe you don’t watch basketball in the summer.”

Chris Paul was the player who first brought the idea to the attention of NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Like James, he very much enjoyed it. 

“I’m obviously biased. I don’t think it ever went anywhere. I know I’m always competitive whenever I play. But the good thing about our league is we’re always adding things and trying new things and trying to figure out from my fans what they like. 

This was an idea I brought to Adam. Thankfully, we tried it out, so I was asking the guys how they enjoyed it during the game and at the end of the game. So you all be sure to ask him.”

Kawhi Leonard voiced his support as while, while quieting criticism about the game ending on a free throw. 

“I mean, it’s a point, so we can’t take out free throws through the whole game. They pretty much made the last six or seven free throws towards the end. They kept giving them. So do we want to minus those points as well? 

But the new format was good. I felt like it was fun in that fourth quarter.”

Even the coaches were on board. Nick Nurse was effusive in his praise of the Elam Ending. 

“Well, I think it was really interesting. It was really fun. Each and every quarter was, from a coaching standpoint was really fun. I thought the quarters got really interesting really early in the quarters because the game was moving pretty quick. Not a ton of whistles in the first bit, right? So the thing kind of mattered a little bit. 

I think with the cumulative score, even though we were down in the first quarter, we thought we had to keep plugging to keep it close so it doesn’t get too far away. Then when we were on the other side of it, we said let’s keep increasing our lead and get as big of an advantage going into the fourth. 

Then, obviously, the end was amazing. I think everybody in the whole place was on their feet watching each possession, and they were really going at it. I mean, defensively it was hard to get anything — or offensively it was hard to get anything started. Even first passes were being denied. It felt like the end of a playoff game, which was really cool, I thought.”

There are obviously still kinks to work out. The game ending on a free throw is one of them, and an idea that has made the rounds on Twitter has been late-game free throws deducting points from the other team rather than adding them to the team that made them. But with the 2020 All-Star Game in the books, the Elam Ending as a whole has to be viewed as a rousing success. At the very least, it should be retained for future All-Star Games, and potentially even adopted into the regular-season rule book. 

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