The NBA All-Star Game is not known for its competiveness, save for the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, but in a move to potentially put more at stake for players, the NBA has increased the bonus to $100K per player on the winning team, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
Haynes notes previous years the winning team would take home $50,000. The losing team will still receive a $25,000 bonus, but it adds an extra $75,000 worth of motivation potentially for teams to strive for the win. Haynes talked to several players about the change.
Celtics center Al Horford:
”I think guys will definitely take the game more seriously. In the last couple of years, the games haven’t been good and we’re all aware of that. Regardless of that, I think guys are going to come out and compete. But that’s a big incentive, for sure. We’re going to be diving for loose balls out there.”
Horford’s teammate Kyrie Irving shared a similar take:
”That’ll certainly make it more interesting,” Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving said to ESPN regarding the $100,000 winner’s prize. “That’s a huge difference.”
But Warriors star and All-Star captain Stephen Curry suggests changes beyond just the dollar amount:
”That’s significant. For some players, they just want to see [the game] being worth their time,” Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry tells ESPN. “An idea I have is shortening the day. The entire game day is the biggest drag for us. Media [obligations], sponsorship appearances, [extravagant, prolonged] All-Star introductions. It’s obviously a made-for-TV event. After all that, then there’s the game. That’s a lot. But all the changes should help make the game a little better. It won’t be like [Saturday night against the Celtics], but it should be better.”
Damian Lillard will play for Team Steph along with Horford in Los Angeles on Feb. 18.