Top stars head to Las Vegas Even more money motivates NBA giants for new competition
December 6, 2023, 7:21 p.m
Off to Las Vegas: Four basketball teams are playing for their first cup victory in the dazzling metropolis. The players’ reactions vary between enthusiasm and ignorance. World champion Schröder thinks: “I think the NBA is building something cool.”
Dennis Schröder is already excited about the upcoming basketball show in Las Vegas. The world champion and his Toronto Raptors didn’t even qualify for it. “I think it’s cool because I’m a football fan and grew up with cup competitions like the DFB Cup or the FA Cup. I think the NBA is building something cool there,” said Schröder.
Two semi-finals and a final in a dazzling location, lots of star power, plenty of celebrities in the stands and strong financial incentives: With this concept, the best basketball league in the world wants to ceremoniously end its first-ever staging of the newly introduced cup competition at the weekend. “It’s also cool that the Final Four is in Las Vegas,” said Schröder at Spox.
“Do we get money now?”
NBA boss Adam Silver is likely to like the fact that superstars like LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) as well as huge talents like Zion Williamson from the New Orleans Pelicans and Tyrese Haliburton from the Indiana Pacers are with their teams in Vegas. The players themselves, however, are not yet really familiar with the procedure surrounding the so-called in-season tournament.
When Antetokounmpo moved his Bucks into the Final Four on Tuesday evening, he was certainly surprised by the consequences. “Are we getting money now? We’re getting money?” asked the Greek, who is earning $45.64 million this season. In his typically dry manner, he finally stated: “The rich are getting richer.” All players on the winning team receive a whopping bonus of $500,000; there is a little less for those who reach the finals and semi-finals. For Antetokounmpo, this is peanuts. Some substitute players, on the other hand, showed a significantly increased emotionality during the tournament.
Colorful courts are not enough as an incentive
The NBA is borrowing from European sports with the new format, which offers a second trophy to win alongside the championship. “The origin of the idea was global football and the realization that there is currently a tradition, especially outside of the United States, in which, in addition to winning the championship, there are other cups and competitions during a season,” explained league boss Silver . In addition to world champion captain Schröder, the other Germans around whiz kid Franz Wagner (Orlando Magic) also did not qualify for the final weekend.
Another goal of the league was to enhance an 82-game season, which was and is basically just the months-long prelude to the following playoffs. Now there will be the first cup in December and not in June. But just a sometimes complicated mode, colorfully painted courts and the prospect of silverware wasn’t enough for the basketball stars.
It needed additional motivation: money. Milwaukee’s star player Khris Middleton admits this openly. “I’m absolutely sure that the richest person in the world would be happy to get $500,000. We’re all eager for this opportunity to make some extra money.” In return, the NBA gets knockout duels like James against Kevin Durant in an otherwise rather lukewarm phase of the season – as well as a special finale with three games in Las Vegas.
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