By Joshua M Hicks (@jhicks042)
Hardly any sports league in America is a finished product. Just as athletes and societies evolve and their respective abilities and tastes adjust over time, our sports themselves evolve and expand. Football and baseball seemingly go through such changes yearly in order to keep the game safe and to eliminate unfair competitive advantages.
In basketball, certain rule changes have been created to speed up the game. Today the number of possessions and scoring rate at the NBA level are as high as they’ve ever been.
The NBA is pretty much satisfied by the pacing and level of intensity in the average game, but there have long been issues with competition in its All-Star Game, even if scoring in the game remains plentiful.
This year’s All-Star Game, which takes place in Chicago Sunday evening (7:00 pm CT, TNT) will feature a variation of a revolutionary game-deciding method called the Elam Ending, which has gained popularity in the basketball world after being utilized in annual summer hoops competition The Basketball Tournament (TBT).
Nick Elam, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Ball State University, invented the method, which after this weekend should become common knowledge among anyone interested in pro basketball. Back in 2004, during his senior year at the University of Dayton, Elam was watching a March Madness game go down to the wire and began to think of ways games could be just as competitive throughout their entirety. In 2007, the Elam Ending was born.
“The purpose of the idea was to preserve a more natural way to eliminate the clock and focus on competition at the end of games,” Elam told WARR Media this week. “This was not to hurt the game, but do the opposite.”
The concept of the Elam Ending is this: after a certain amount of time in the final period of play, the game clock is turned off and a target score is set. The first team to reach the target score wins, meaning every contest would have a game-winning shot, as TBT proudly proclaimed last summer.
Elam’s method has revolutionized the game of basketball to a point where the game does not just become competitive, but entertaining.
The Basketball Tournament was one of the first professional leagues to use the Elam Ending in 2017, and it became a huge success. Now the method has reached arguably the biggest professional sport in the world, and it will be utilized in a way to honor the late Los Angeles Laker legend Kobe Bryant. The All-Star Game this year will play the first three quarters with a normal game clock, then in the fourth quarter, the game clock will be turned off, the scores will reset to zero and a final target score of 24 points will be set.
Elam is honored to see his method being utilized on one of the biggest stages in sports history.
“All the best players are on one court playing to my method. It is an honor and a thrill,” Elam said. “I already thought about what the ending to the game could potentially be, whether it can be a LeBron James dunk or a James Harden three-pointer.”
The Elam Ending has the potential to make a good impression on many NBA fans and executives, and positive feedback could increase the likelihood it will be picked up by numerous basketball leagues. Elam wants to see his method expand across various competitive levels and applauds the different leagues that have already utilized his method throughout various competitions.
“I think [All-Star Weekend] is a springboard to make my method a more worldwide thing,” Elam told me. “I applaud TBT and BIG3 for being creative. I see maybe this method going to the G-League, or an NIT tournament, other international leagues and the other local professional leagues such as the NCAA, NBA, WNBA, etc.”
As Elam encourages other leagues to utilize his method, he is already thinking of ways to evolve the current method that’s already implemented.
“This concept is always meant to evolve,” Elam said. “Once the idea is implemented, we can scrutinize it. Based on the different leagues, they can create their own versions of it.”
Basketball has always been a sport that is known to be creative within various forms to create high competition. Different games such as King of the Hill, Knockout, H.O.R.S.E. and 21 are often played during practices to improve skillsets on both offense and defense, especially when it comes to isolation basketball.
Other professional leagues such as BIG3 and TBT have made or created their own rules to make the game more exciting, like the new fireball shot that will go along with the 4-point shot already created within the BIG3.
We must applaud Elam for being a trailblazer by using his creativity to create a system that has been an overall success. As the NBA continues to evolve, we must not overlook the next phases that the Elam Ending can bring to the table.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Senior Writer for WARR Media