Words by Roman White

The NBA has doubled the prize money for the winning team in the All-Star game, as incentive for a more competitive game. Last season, the losing team would take home $25,000, and the winner would take home $50,000 but this year, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA organization are raising the winner’s payout to $100,000.

NBA fans of late have complained about the lack of competitiveness in the NBA All-Star game. Very rarely is there much defense being played in the game leading to outrageous final scores like last year, in which the Western Conference beat the Eastern conference 192-182. Following the game, many clips of past NBA All-Star games surfaced online showing a more competitive game when All-Star’s actually competed on both ends of the floor – a clear sign from fans that they wanted to see some real high-talent basketball.

NBA All-Star’s have responded to the major increase in the winner’s payout. “That’ll certainly make it more interesting,” Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving told ESPN. “That’s a huge difference.”

Klay Thompson also spoke with ESPN saying that this pay increase should “certainly help” the competitive nature of the game.

Another Golden State Warrior All-Star, Steph Curry, felt a little differently. While Curry agreed that it would make the game better, he also has some thoughts on shortening the player’s obligations to the weekend such as media and sponsorship appearances that take place pretty much all day.

The NBA is clearly working their hardest to make All-Star weekend more interesting. The Rookie vs. Sophomore game has changed to the U.S. vs. world game which makes sense with an influx of new international talent like Australia’s Ben Simmons, Cameroon’s  Joel Embiid, and Finland’s Lauri Markkanen.

As for the Sunday game, instead of the normal East vs. West, the two leading All-Star’s in votes, Steph Curry, and LeBron James, were captains and drafted their the players they wanted on their team. The NBA All-Star game takes place Sunday, February 18 at 8pm.

Team LeBron: Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Paul George (replaced Demarcus Cousins), Russell Westbrook, Kristaps Porzingis, Bradley Beal, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Victor Oladipo, John Wall.

Team Curry: James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, DeMar DeRozan, Joel Embiid, Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kyle Lowry, Al Horford, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson