In one sense, there isn’t a whole lot at stake in the NBA playoffs, at least not in terms of a direct payout from the league. Of the $13 million dollars set aside for the playoff pool, only $776,717 separates the Finals winner from the loser.
Put another way: the different between winning and losing is roughly $75,000 less than what the Milwaukee Bucks paid Joel Przybilla for a season as their last-string center, a season that consisted of 12 games, one glorious start, and 2 points.
(Ed. note: AP style dictates that I use the word “two” instead of the numeral “2” here, but when talking about a player’s point total for the entirety of a regular season, I say we just go crazy, throw up the numeral and see what happens.)
But $776,717 isn’t the total payout. The Heat and Spurs have each guaranteed themselves over $2.5 million this postseason, a sum usually distributed among players and other team personnel. It’s often the case that team captains decide on the methodology of such a split. Some teams opt for equal divisions. Others divvy up shares based on players’ importance to the team. Often team trainers and other staff are figured into the distribution.
Below is the distribution of playoff funds for the 2013 NBA postseason, with the result of the NBA Finals still pending.
The Bucks are among the group of four teams receiving the minimum payment of $194,016 for making the playoffs, not advancing, and not finishing among the top six seeds in either conference’s regular season.
Over the decades, the NBA’s playoff pool has grown. In 1951, the league’s players and coaches shared a pool of $50,000. Since then, it has expanded from from $1.5 million in 1983 to $5 million in 1993 to $8.75 million in 2003.