In what appears to be an incentive to improve the competitive spirit of NBA All-Star Games, player earnings have been increased, league sources tell ESPN.
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.
All-Star Weekend 2018 will be Feb. 16-18 in Los Angeles.
There will be a $75,000 difference between the winners' and losers' earnings, as opposed to just $25,000. Some players have bonuses in their contracts tied to All-Star appearances, but that is independent of the boost the league is rewarding the All-Star Game winners.
All-Star players who spoke to ESPN overwhelmingly agreed that this financial incentive is a game-changer. Most of the All-Stars said they were unaware of the salary hike.
"Well, I would like to think so," Boston Celtics forward Al Horford told ESPN. "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."
Over the years, there have been heightened complaints about the players not taking the game seriously enough, with porous defense and half-hearted offensive showings. That could change dramatically.
"That'll certainly make it more interesting," Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving said regarding the $100,000 winner's prize. "That's a huge difference."
"I think it will help, for sure. That's a lot of money," Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson told ESPN. "It will definitely help."
This season, the NBA removed the Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format and implemented a draft in which two captains, the top vote-getter in each conference, make the selections. Furthermore, the teams will play for a local charity. The belief is that the intensity might pick up with such alterations.
But of all the revisions, the almighty dollar might just be the solution.
"That's significant. For some players, they just want to see [the game] being worth their time," Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry told 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."
Team LeBron James drafted Kevin Durant and fellow starters Irving, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, along with reserves Bradley Beal, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Victor Oladipo, Kristaps Porzingis and John Wall.
Paul George was voted in by commissioner Adam Silver as an injury replacement for Cousins.
Team Curry selected starters Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan, James Harden and Joel Embiid and reserves Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Kyle Lowry, Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns and Horford.
The game will be played Feb. 18 at Staples Center.