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Saturday, February 08, 2020 1:00 am

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A possible solution to hoop schemes

If you're a basketball fan and you aren't familiar with the Elam Ending, you will be, very soon.  

Looking for a dramatic way to honor the late NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, the league has decided to end the Feb. 16 All-Star Game with a version of Nick Elam's clockless basketball. And how fitting is it that this innovative solution to the tedium of end-of-the-game slowdowns and desperation fouls was developed by a Hoosier? 

Elam, an assistant professor of educational leadership at Ball State University, thought up the ending when he was a student at the University of Dayton. The idea is magnificently simple. To prevent one team from “playing out the clock” to protect its lead – get rid of the clock.  

The Basketball Tournament, which pits privately organized teams from around the country each summer on ESPN, has been putting Elam's idea into application since 2017. Under Basketball Tournament rules, the game goes off the clock when the first referee whistle blows with four minutes or less left in the game. A target score is then set by adding eight points to the leading team's score at that point. All other rules remain the same, and the first team to reach the target score wins the game. Fans of the Elam Ending say it brings good games to a cleaner, faster-paced conclusion.  

Next Sunday, Elam's elegant solution will hit the big-time in the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago's United Center. As one of many ways the game will honor Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who died last month in a helicopter crash, the all-star teams headed by the Lakers' LeBron James and the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo will play the final quarter in an Elam-inspired clockless format.

The target score will be the score of the team that's leading at the end of the third quarter plus 24 points. Bryant wore No. 24 for the last decade of his NBA career.  

Elam, who will be on hand for the game, thinks this is a great way for the league to honor Bryant.  

“Kobe Bryant was many things and one of them? On the court in the fourth quarter, that was his time. He took over,” Elam told the Indianapolis Star. “At the end of this game, we are going to see some of the best players in the world on one court and we will see them step up and rise to that.” 

If things go well next weekend, the Elam Ending could be a part of the regular rules by next year's All-Star game in Indianapolis. 


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