Backs were bent while hands had been placed on knees.
That was the position of the majority of fans inside the United Center on Sunday night and the ones that were at home in front of their TVs.
Everyone was locked in as Team LeBron and Team Giannis raced to see who would be the first to score 157 points, in a fourth quarter that was without commercials and a game clock.
For many, it was the first time that they’d experienced the Elam Ending. Named after its creator, Nick Elam – a professor of educational leadership at Ball State University, the format was introduced at The Basketball Tournament a few years ago and eliminates the game clock, while giving teams a target score to play to, as Anthony Davis’ free throw gave Team LeBron the 157-155 victory over Team Giannis.
Team LeBron won the first quarter, as Team Giannis responded by winning the second, which of course led to a tie in the third, leading to the climactic final quarter. In all, $500,000 was donated to two local charities, as Team LeBron played for the Chicago Scholars Foundation which took home $400,000, while Team Giannis was able to secure $100,000 for After School Matters.
Every player received at least 12 minutes of game action on Sunday night, except for New Orleans Pelicans swingman Brandon Ingram who was limited to nine. Ingram is still nursing an ankle injury he recently suffered as he was still able to get into the box score in his first All-Star Game appearance.
Giannis led the way for his team with 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Team LeBron was fueled by Kawhi Leonard’s 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists, as he became the first player to ever win the MVP award that is now named after Kobe Bryant.
“I came in, and I made my first two shots. … That’s when I told myself, ‘I’m going to go try to get [MVP],'” Leonard said. “It’s very special. I had a relationship with him. Words can’t explain how happy I am for it. Able to put that trophy in my room, my trophy room, and just be able to see Kobe’s name on there, it just means a lot to me. He’s a big inspiration in my life.”
With the success of the Elam Ending, it appears that the irrelevance that surrounded the finale of the All-Star for years has now, and will continue to be, replaced with high-level competition and boatloads of money donated to charities.
Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Salt Lake City are scheduled to host the next installments on the All-Star Game. And while they might not be the sexiest places on Earth, they will have a chance to do something that Chicago didn’t.
Because in case you forgot, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, and Zion Williamson are all expected to be participants in next year’s game.