Why The NBA Should Consider Using the Elam Ending

Why The NBA Should Consider Using the Elam Ending

The NBA is one of the most popular sports leagues in North American and possibly the world. The league hauled in $8.3 billion, although that was down 10% from their previous season. The reason for that loss was of course the pandemic, and while businesses closed and people’s lives changed forever, the NBA only managed $8.3 billion. It’s safe to say that they are doing fine, but they could be doing even better.

Basketball is known for being a fast-paced game that sees plenty of scoring and constant action. In other sports like baseball, actions have been taken to improve the entertainment value of the game, and while the NBA doesn’t have that issue right now, they could make one change that would make the entire game entertaining.


We’ve all watched games with intentional fouls and timeouts galore at the end of the game that slow things down and take some of the excitement out of the game. There’s a very simple solution to this problem, and it’s something that only one professional basketball league in the world uses, the Elam Ending.

The Canadian Elite Basketball League has used the Elam Ending since the pandemic forced them to play in a bubble in Niagara for the 2020 season, but it was such a success that it was brought back for the 2021 season. Although it had its detractors, it created a vastly more exciting end to the game that fans seemed to love.

Perhaps the Elam Ending isn’t something you have ever heard of before. In essence, the system eliminates the game clock with four minutes left in the game in favour of a target score. The target score is decided by taking the leading team’s score and adding nine. For example, if the score is 90-87, the first team to reach 99 points will win the game. This eliminates the need for intentionally fouling and makes the game exciting down to the final shot.


“Bringing back the Elam Ending for our 2021 season was an easy decision especially after watching its success last year at our Summer Series,” said Mike Morreale, Commissioner & CEO of the CEBL. “We have always looked to add new excitement to our games and the Elam Ending is all about that. It’s a throwback to how the game is played on playgrounds, gyms, and backyards across the world. Bringing that same ‘last bucket wins’ mentality to the CEBL means no lead is ever safe and the fans always win.”

Related: Ranking the CEBL Logos

If you’re a hardcore fan of the NBA, you might remember that the Elam Ending was used for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, although it was in a somewhat modified format.

“The feedback I received after an entertaining end to last year’s NBA All-Star Game in the moment, as well as online and on social media, was almost all positive, which really speaks volumes,” Elam said. “To get that kind of reaction is great, but the best endorsement of all is the fact that the NBA has decided to use the Elam Ending format once again for the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.”

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

“After the game, my brother came down, and he said, this has been the most fun All-Star (game) he’s been a part of,” 2020 NBA All-Star Game captain Giannis Antetokounmpo told reporters. “And I asked him why, and he told me, ‘Because you guys were really competitive. You guys were playing to win.’

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“We had a little bit of playoff intensity out there. So I loved it.” continued Antetokounmpo. “I hope we can keep the same format for a lot of years, and I think people had fun, we had fun. So that’s what it’s all about.”


The big question for the NBA regarding the Elam Ending is do they want to fix something that isn’t broken. After all, basketball is one of the most exciting sports in its current form, so why would you change? It’s a good question, but the NBA is known for pushing the envelope and doing things that could bring them more eyeballs and in turn, more money.

Adam Silver has been looking for ways to make games more meaningful and has made (or proposed) several changes including a play-in for the playoffs, a tournament for the Draft Lottery, and a midseason tournament. All of these changes didn’t need to happen, but Silver and the NBA have made it clear that they will always be looking for a way to do something better.

Adam Silver, the NBA’s fifth and current commissioner.

That’s where the Elam Ending comes into play. It’s a better, more entertaining way to end a basketball game. Of course, the hardcore fans who love the tradition of ending the game with intentional fouls will be upset, but who doesn’t like the buzzer-beater? Wouldn’t you rather see the World Series end with a walk-off home run rather than a basses loaded walk? Wouldn’t a three-point buzzer-beater to win the NBA Final be better than dribbling the ball out? Excitement is key.


It would take some getting used to for sure, but in the end, the NBA has so much to gain from letting their biggest stars come up clutch in the Elam Ending. Every possession would mean so much, every touch of the basketball has the chance to swing the game, and fans would be on the edge of their seat at the end of nearly every game. It’s the way forward, and the sooner the NBA embraces the Elam Ending, the sooner we can do away with the boredom that the end of games can sometimes create.

We want to hear from you. Would you like the see the NBA use the CEBL? Why or why not? Let us know on Twitter!

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