TBT’s experiment: A new endgame
One of the more interesting sports experiments was tested over the weekend during the play-in games for The Basketball Tournament — a glorified pickup basketball tournament with a winner-take-all $2 million prize.
At the end of games, held over the weekend in Philadelphia, the game clock shut off at the first dead ball after the four-minute mark for the rest of the game. Officials set a target score by adding seven points to the leading team’s score. Whichever team got to the target score first won.
Tournament organizers made the move with a TV audience in mind. They are looking to keep a flow at the end of games, eliminating the late-game strategy of stopping the clock by intentionally fouling.
“ESPN loves it — it was a main reason why they decided to carry all of our games live on ESPN3 for the play-in event,” Mugar said. “It sounded gimmicky at first, but it makes a lot of sense. It’s not like you’re lowering a 15-foot basket, like they did in the MTV ‘Rock ‘N Jock’ game back in the ’90s. There’s a reason for it, and it’s well thought out.”
This is not a gimmicky league. Former college players, many of whom play for pro leagues outside of the United States, compete in the league. The league uses a mix of NBA and NCAA rules.
As with most nascent leagues, it experiments with TV. It mikes refs and coaches and doesn’t shy away from picking up live conversations.
“From a viewership perspective and a production standpoint, we’ve really wanted to differentiate when it comes to audio,” Mugar said. “We’ll listen live to a coach and a general manager on the bench fighting about who should play and who should come out of the game.”
The new end-of-game rule only will be used for the play-in games. It will not be used during this year’s tournament. But it’s clear that Mugar is leaning toward using it for the entire tournament in 2018.
“One of the things I said to ESPN was that every game will end with a highlight — a made shot,” Mugar said. “If we put this into place next year, I guaranteed ESPN that there will be a game-winning shot for $2 million.”