The NBA is taking drastic measures in 2018 to ensure the All-Star Game is much more competitive than in years past. The exhibition is never going to have a playoff atmosphere, but what it has devolved into over the past decade, where there’s not really a semblance of competition, is not what the league wants either.
The first step the league took to try and spice things up was to get rid of the traditional East vs. West matchup and have team captains draft the teams from the player pool. This led to unique combinations such as LeBron and Kevin Durant being paired up on the same team after James selected the Warriors’ star first overall in the draft to keep him from being on Steph Curry’s team.
That change will hopefully bring more intrigue into the game because the All-Star teams that often feature the same groupings of stars over and over with little turnover, but also will motivate players to try a little harder. To encourage that competitive nature a bit more, the league has reportedly bumped up the bonus players are paid out for being on the winning team.
In the past, players on the winning team earned $50,000 while those on the losing team earned $25,000, but according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, this year’s winning bonus jumps up to $100,000.
Each player on the winning team will receive $100,000, and the losing team players will pocket $25,000, league sources said. The only modification is the winner’s compensation, with a $50,000 boost from previous years.
Whether this has any effect on the players’ effort levels remains to be seen, but a $75,000 difference between winning and losing isn’t anything to scoff at, even for guys that are on multi-million dollar deals. You certainly can’t say the league isn’t trying to shake things up to make for a more competitive game, now it’s just a matter of how good can the game be when everyone’s going at less than 100 percent speed because it is still, no matter the money or changing of the format, an exhibition game at heart where leaving healthy is a top priority.