Dear Commissioner Silver, the NBA’s Orlando restart needs the Elam Ending

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NBA Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

In an open letter to Commissioner Adam Silver, Mike Philly reflects on dialogue with Nick Elam to explore a conditional use of the Elam Ending format in the Orlando bubble during the NBA restart.

Dear NBA Commissioner Adam Silver,

If you are reading, I hope these words find you well. I want to start by extending my sincerest gratitude to you (as well as to Michele Roberts, Mark Tatum, and many, many others within the league) for the commitment to bringing NBA basketball back to the world, and working steadfastly to do so in the safest manner for all involved. Yes, there will be understandable blowback from critics, who will be fair in their inevitable doubts about how smart or necessary it is for the 2019-20 season to resume. However, the current socio-political climate has eroded this moment into one of the most salient nature.

As a result, the NBA, its coaches, and its players have a unique opportunity to cultivate a conversation and shine a sustained light on the historical stain of racial inequity in America, which predates even the Declaration of Independence. The continued discussion and the luminescence of these hard truths will reign far supreme over whoever the eventual NBA Champion will be.

The world sees your commitment to not just stoking the fire, but instead filling a gas can and pouring it on the flames of this necessary public discourse. Thank you.

Anyhow, I know you are busy, certainly now more than ever. Given that, I will be concise: the NBA needs to bring the Elam Ending to Orlando. It might make way too much sense for the NBA’s return to play in 2020. I felt strongly enough about this to reach out to Nick Elam – you know, the namesake of the format who the NBA hosted at this year’s All-Star Game. He, too, would like to see his concept reintroduced during the NBA Restart. “Implementing the Elam Ending in Orlando would be valuable,” he expressed.

I think I can pinpoint some of your doubts: It would be too gimmicky. It would compromise the result of the season. It would be far too challenging to implement. It would corrupt the sanctity of competition. Players and owners would never get behind it. It’s far too difficult to install this close to the return to play.

With these things in mind, I spent some time exploring plausible scenarios of implementation for the Elam Ending in Orlando. Once the official schedule of seeding games was released, I conjured three situations in which the NBA could utilize the Elam Ending in Orlando: a play-in tournament for the 8-seed“meaningless” games, or the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

For an in-depth breakdown of each scenario, you can read through the attached slideshow.

Somewhere in another world, I wait in earnest to hear back from you.


Mike Philly

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