There is a lot on the line during the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. What often gets lost in the quest for a championship, though, is the fact that the players involved are in line to receive some lucrative bonuses.
According to NBA.com, both the Heat and Spurs will be vying for bigger paydays in addition to the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.
The payouts are based upon both which team wins the series and how the teams performed during the regular season. With that in mind, the Spurs are already guaranteed $3,268,347 due to the fact that they had the NBA's best record this season. Conversely, the Heat are guaranteed $2,795,220.
Those numbers will go up considerably for the team that wins, per NBA.com. The Spurs' winning share will go up to $4,104,811 and the Heat's will climb to $3,631,684.
The NBA playoffs started with a $14 million prize pool, and while much of that has been paid out to teams that have been eliminated, there is obviously plenty left to go around for the Spurs and Heat.
Although these payouts may not mean much to superstar players like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, there are plenty of role players and journeymen in this series who would love an extra paycheck.
In the wake of how things played out in Game 1, perhaps the Spurs need the bonus money a little more than the Heat do. The Spurs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the series with a 110-95 victory in Game 1 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, but it was marred by an air conditioning malfunction that caused temperatures to exceed 90 degrees, according to SportsCenter:
Despite the victory, the Spurs have been the brunt of jokes since that controversy. ESPN's Lisa Kerney offered to gather some funds in order to get the issue fixed:
Even Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich got in on the act following Game 1, per Armen Williams of 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio:
The air conditioning issues actually helped Popovich's team as LeBron was forced to leave the game with less than four minutes remaining due to severe cramping. While it's impossible to say what the exact circumstances behind the air conditioning fiasco were, James thought some foul play may have been involved, according to CNN's Rachel Nichols:
LeBron's exit from the game came in the midst of a torrid run by the Spurs that caused the game to get out of hand after Miami actually led by seven points in the fourth quarter.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra acknowledged that James' cramping hurt the team, but he stopped short of making excuses, per Royce Young of ESPN.com.
It was an unusual environment. We're used to having the hotter arena at this time of year. But both teams had to deal with it. It's unfortunate that it was that way. It was how we responded in those minutes after that point. I think it felt like a punch in the gut when you see your leader limping like that back to the bench, but at the same time, we still had an opportunity to make plays going down the stretch, and they made obviously the biggest plays in the last five minutes.
That situation has put the Heat behind the eight ball in terms of capturing their third consecutive NBA title and the monetary gains that go with it, but they are no strangers to coming from behind.
Miami overcame a 3-2 deficit in last year's NBA Finals against the Spurs, so they have the confidence necessary to get back in this thing. Most teams would probably panic after going down 1-0 to a veteran-laden team, but the Heat have already been there and done that.
The winning purse is still very much up for grabs in the 2014 NBA Finals, and there is little doubt that basketball fans are in for yet another classic series.
Even though money may be the last thing on the minds of some of these players right now, it is simply another benefit of becoming a champion.
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