Some really exciting games and moments have resulted from players taking it more seriously than anticipated. In his first season with the organization, Damian Lillard will be vying for his first trophy when the Milwaukee Bucks take on the Indiana Pacers on Thursday in Las Vegas. However, he’s focused on another matter.
Damian Lillard: “All I have to do is take the money.”
When questioned about what winning the competition would mean to him, Lillard made it apparent that he concerned more about the cash than the trophy.
“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a banner. I believe the winner will be remembered as the first winner in history. I believe that’s what makes it so beautiful. But I’ll just accept the cash. It would be nice if you could give us the reason we came.”
It’s not only him that feels that way. After the Bucks defeated the Knicks, even Giannis Antetokounmpo, a teammate, was taken aback to hear about the winnings. Lillard stated that he intended to employ the funds to support those who were in need.
“I will not simply walk away and do nothing. I believe it would feel like it’s not coming out of my pocket, but I know of a few folks that could really use some help. Possibly a couple of folks would be on the radar for me.”
It is not an insignificant change. Although NBA players receive very high salaries during the regular season, money is still money. Each player in the event will get these payments.
- Win Tournament: $500,000
- Win Semifinals: $250,000
- Win Quarterfinals: $100,000
Regarding the idea that the In-Season Tournament has a playoff vibe, Lillard wouldn’t go so far as to say that money seems to be a major motivator, which has made tournament games increasingly competitive than imagined.
“In this case, we’re going home, but we’re going home to further games and there’s still a chance to be there in the final stretch. We all know the season will go on, so no matter what, I don’t believe it’s the exact same thing. When you get to the Playoffs, this is it. Someone has to go home.”
Damian Lillard also made a subtle jab at the bizarre court layouts we’ve seen used for competition play. In the upcoming season, he says he’d “like to see better designs for the courts”.