Player Profile: Nick Elam


By: TBT Staff | @thetournament

Elam's Proposal Revolutionizes Crunch Time in Basketball

*Editor's Note: This article first appeared on on 4/12/2017 and has been updated to reflect Monday's announcement that the entirety of this year's tournament will be played under Elam Ending rules.*

Nick Elam is a problem solver.

In his day job as an Ohio middle school principal (Elam is now a professor at Ball State University), he helps his students resolve school or home-related problems facing them that day.

When he’s at Great American Ball Park as a member of the Cincinnati Reds grounds keeping crew, he tackles field-related issues ranging from weather to everyday wear and tear.

And now Elam, a die-hard basketball fan, has his sights set on solving one of his biggest problems with the game of basketball – those last few minutes that seem to take hours because of intentional fouls.

The “Elam Ending” aims to revolutionize basketball by eliminating end-of-game fouling all together and keeping the quality of play consistent throughout the entire game.

“Like many sports fans, I enjoy playing armchair commissioner and weighing the benefits of possible rule changes,” Elam said. “No more rushed or sloppy possessions of hopeless heaves by the trailing offense – no more waving the white flag – no more late-game clock controversies and reviews.”

Here’s how the Elam Ending works: Eliminate the clock from crunch time (under three-minute timeout in the NBA and under four-minute timeout in college) and establish a new target score by adding seven points to the leading team’s score. Resume the game and first team to reach the target score wins.

For example, Team A leads Team B 70-65 at the under four-minute timeout. The clock then disappears and the first team to reach the new target score of 77 wins.

This eliminates the perceived advantage of fouling to stop the clock and allows for teams to make a comeback using hard-nosed defense and efficient offense rather than numerous fouls and prayers for missed free throws.

What started as a frustrated conversation amongst friends during the 2004 Elite Eight has turned into Elam’s third job and new passion. He’s logged over a thousand NBA, college and international games over the past few years and found that basketball’s go-to comeback strategy of intentional fouling just doesn’t work.

In the nearly 400 NBA games he logged, the trailing team that resorted to fouling lost the game over 98 percent of the time. College games saw a similar trend, with the fouling team losing over 96 percent of the time.

Elam has shared his idea with just about any basketball fan or influencer that will listen, and says the responses have been very generous.

“A few have raised the concern that buzzer beaters would go by the wayside,” Elam said. “Like most basketball fans, I also love when a game ends with a meaningful made basket, and my proposed format will treat fans to many more amazing finishes.”

Not only does the Elam Ending eliminate the dreaded late-game fouling, it keeps the quality of basketball from declining down the stretch and every game ends on a made shot.

With the theme of real, authentic, anti-gimmick endings to a basketball games, there’s no better place to test Elam’s proposal in action than TBT. After appearing in 11 games last summer at the TBT Jamboree, the Elam Ending will be in effect across all 71 games in #TBT2018.

“I really believe this idea is The Big One, and will change the game of basketball forever – simply by preserving the natural style of play that we already love,” Elam said. “We’ll look back on foul-filled endings a few years later and wonder ‘how did we let this go on for so long?’”