Championship bonuses are part of incentives given to teams as a reward for achieving milestones. It can serve as added motivation for players to work harder to win more games. The NBA is no different. Here’s how the championship bonus is computed and distributed in the NBA.
The championship bonus varies every year
The amount varies every year and is dependent on the “players' pool.” The total amount will be given to those teams that made the playoffs and the champions.
In 2016, the pool amounted to $15 million. The winners received around $2.6 million, and a 15-man roster means each could have taken home $177,000. While this money may seem trivial to the superstars in the league, it may mean much to the reserve players.
On the other hand, it’s not clear how the bonus is being distributed; a superstar may demand a bigger compensation than the 15th man on the roster based on production on the floor.
More buzz, more money
The NBA playoffs make money via viewership and pre-pandemic gate attendance. There’s also the sale of jerseys and other game memorabilia. While the NBA finals cannot be compared to the Super Bowl of the NFL when it comes to the national interest, the former can still create buzz, especially when superstars are involved and a tight series is being fought.
The NBA features a 7-game series all the way to the finals, and unless games are close, fans’ interest may increase. Super Bowl is a one-game event, so fans tune in because they won’t have any games to watch if they miss it.
Curiously, even though SuperBowl gets higher viewership, the champions get lower salary bonuses than NBA champions. The Philadelphia Eagles, after winning in 2018, reportedly received a $112,000 bonus each.
The reported prize money for the 2022 NBA Championships winners was $27.5 million -- last year's prize pool was about $22 million.
With the NBA aiming for a new TV deal worth around $75 billion -- the previous deal was worth $24 billion -- we're expecting to see a huge jump in the salary cap. That being said, the championship prize pool should also go through the roof. Assuming the money distribution system stays the same, and that the winners’ share grows by 10%, in line with the pool’s overall increase, we should be seeing heftier championship bonuses up for grabs in the future.
Winning NBA titles was never about money. And no matter the prize pool, that'll never change. Still, with the TV deal looming over the league, a lot more money should go hand in hand with taking home the Larry O'Brien. That won't change much for the superstars in the NBA, but it should make those second-tier contributors on a championship team that much happier.