NBA to adopt TBT's Elam Ending format for 2020 All-Star Game


By: Josh Brown | @josh_brown31

The revolutionary Elam Ending will go from TBT to the NBA All-Star Game this February

TBT 2020 is just over five months away, but you won't have to wait nearly that long to get your fix of the Elam Ending. On Wednesday, the NBA announced that it will be adopting its own version of the revolutionary format for the 2020 All-Star Game in Chicago. 


While the NBA's version of the Elam Ending will look slightly different from TBT, it's certainly for good reason. Instead of shutting the clock off at the final U4 timeout and setting a target score, the NBA will play without a clock for the entire fourth quarter. At the end of the third, they will determine a target score by adding 24 points to the leading team's score, a nod to the late Kobe Bryant. So, for example, if it's 80-78 after three quarters, they will play until one team reaches 104. 

"It’s surreal to see the NBA implement a TBT-inspired end of game format in the All Star Game, especially as fans who grew up watching it," said TBT Founder/CEO Jon Mugar. "The Target Score calculation being tied to Kobe makes it even more special, as he will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest, most clutch closers to ever play the game. We hope the Elam Ending-style finish provides NBA fans with the same level of excitement as we've seen in TBT over the past few years."


TBT adopted the Elam Ending on a part-time basis in 2017, when Mensa member and college professor Nick Elam blindly emailed TBT a 67-page document with a way to eliminate endless fouling at the end of games. Under the rule, at the first dead ball after the four-minute mark in the fourth quarter, the game clock shuts off. A target score is set by adding seven points (it has since been changed to eight) to the leading team's score. The first team to reach the target score wins.

After testing it out at the 2017 Jamboree, TBT decided to permanently implement the rule change for all games. The results have been eye-opening. Not only have fans embraced the concept, but it has led to a noticeably better end of game experience both on the court and in the stands. 

"The Elam Ending looked great in TBT," said Elam after the 2018 tournament. "It met all of its aims. It addressed the deliberate fouling and the stalling that we see so often late in games. It allowed teams to play at a high level all the way through the end of the game and take their best shot on the last possession of the game. It provided greater hope for late comebacks as long as you can continue to get defensive stops. And it provided more memorable game-ending moments."

While the Elam Ending has certainly met its objectives on the court, it has also became a source of discussion and debate in basketball circles around the world. Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey has called for the NBA to adopt the Elam Ending. The Ringer speculated how some of basketball's greatest games would have played out under the rule. It was described as the "best thing to happen to basketball this century." For hoop heads, it has been truly fascinating to watch.

“It almost takes us back to when we would play on the playground,” said Bryon Spruell, the NBA's president for league operations. “We’d go up to 15 or 21 or what have you. This time it’ll be 24 with someone hitting a gamewinning shot.”