The Elam Ending is going to save the NBA All-Star game.
Well, it doesn’t really need “saving”, but it sure got a hell of a lot more entertaining.
If you aren’t familiar with the Elam Ending, it’s pretty straightforward, but you can learn everything you need to know about it and where it came from by clicking here. For the 2020 NBA All-Star game, they tweaked it slightly. After the first three quarters were over, the team with the highest score (in this case, it was Team Giannis) added 24 to their total.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Team Giannis was up 133-124, so the target score was set at 157. The first team to that number wins; pretty simple. The shot clock is still there, but the game clock is turned off. It guarantees a game-winning shot and RAMPED up the intensity in this particular game.
If you’re a fan of The Basketball Tournament, you’ve heard of the Elam Ending and are probably familiar with how it can vastly change the outcome of basketball games. It can all-but eliminate late-game fouling in real-game situations and in the instance of an All-Star game, it creates an incentive for both teams to try harder.
What we saw on Sunday night in Chicago might change the All-Star game as we know it.
Team LeBron came back to win, 157-155, and in the process, fans got to witness what was arguably the most impressive pickup up basketball game of all-time. Think about it, how often are 10 of the very best players in the entire world all sharing the same court together while playing at an elite, hard-nosed level? The All-Star game normally doesn’t provide that intensity. Not even the Olympics can produce this caliber of talent all sharing the court at the same time.
Kyle Lowry was drawing charges. Players were vehemently arguing calls. There were two coach’s challenges. Forget everything that happened in the first three quarters, because it was nothing compared to the historic display that the fourth quarter gave us. Nobody in my lifetime has witnessed anything like what went down at the 2020 All-Star game. It was like watching someone play 2K.
As both teams inched closer to the designated score, the tension in the building grew. There was a purpose with every play called and every possession taken. The fouls even started to rack up as the defense locked in, both sides doing everything they could to prevent what would be a blow-by in any previous All-Star game.
Kawhi Leonard won the MVP, but it was Anthony Davis who saved the day.
With Team LeBron needing just one point to hit 157, Davis, in his hometown of Chicago, stepped to the free-throw line after being fouled by Lowry. The former ‘Cat missed the first, adding even more drama to the evening, but drained the second to win the first-ever Elam Ending finish at the All-Star game.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 17, 2020
Davis completed the night with 20 points on 9-16 shooting to go along with nine rebounds, three steals, and three blocks in his seventh All-Star game appearance. Also on Team LeBron was first-time All-Star Devin Booker, who played 19 minutes, posting six points and four rebounds, including this VICIOUS putback slam.
That bench reaction though ? pic.twitter.com/nLe26U5fFH
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) February 17, 2020
Booker brought out some drip, too, with a tribute to Kobe.
Taking the court for the first time as an #NBAAllStar
Devin Armani Booker pic.twitter.com/Cs3K0yb1aC
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) February 17, 2020
For Team Giannis, Bam Adebayo also made his first career All-Star visit, eight points, two rebounds, and one assist in 11 minutes.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 17, 2020
The first three quarters were tallied the same way as a regular NBA game in order to decide how they would set the target score going into the fourth quarter, but each individual quarter was its own little game. The first quarter was won by Team LeBron, 53-41, with $100,000 going to LeBron James’ Chicago-based charity of choice. The second quarter was won by Team Giannis, 51-30, with $100,000 going to Giannis Antetokounmpo’ Chicago-based charity of choice. The third quarter was a tie, 41-41, and the $100,000 that would have gone to the winner of the quarter rolled over into the fourth. So, since Team LeBron ultimately won the game, they will also take the money from the third quarter.
Confusing? Sort of. But it made each quarter exciting (especially with sections of the crowd being filled with supporters of Team LeBron on one side and Team Giannis on another) and added another layer to the event. The actual All-Star game is almost entirely for the fans. The more that’s going on, the more entertaining it becomes. The NBA pulled this off perfectly.
It capped off what was an awesome three-day run for the NBA and a few former Kentucky Wildcats. This has easily been the best All-Star weekend I can remember.