Everyone in the sports world is pretty excited about the possibility of the Golden State Warriors closing out consecutive NBA Championships. The players for both teams have to be tired – they’ve been playing games since last October. But the more games players play, the more money you make, right?
Not exactly. The way NBA contracts work, players sign a contract to get paid a certain amount each year. The regular season is 82 games. If a team makes the playoffs, that could mean another 28 games.
Mike Leeds, professor of sports economics at Temple University, said, in fact, the more playoff games players play, the less money per game they’re making.
“You’re essentially playing for free,” he said. “There’s a set payment for the winners and a set payment for the losers and that’s it. So, it doesn’t matter if it goes four games that are blowouts or seven games that go into overtime.”
The way the NBA set it up, it put aside a lump sum to be split between all the teams that make the playoffs. This year – it’ll be about $15 million dollars.
Larry Coon, an expert on the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement and writer for ESPN.com, said a better way to put it is, it’s a bonus. He said the real winners in the playoffs are broadcasters and the NBA.
“Would the league love for every series to go seven games? Of course,” he said. “Then it’s raking in more advertising dollars.”
He said those advertising dollars certainly bring more money to the league and, eventually, players will see that money.
“But, it’s circuitous,” he said. “It’s indirect in the way they get it.”
Fans don’t have to feel bad for players like LeBron James and Steph Curry if the series gets pushed to seven games. But they’re also not banking when that series goes the distance. At least, not immediately.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.