Mo’ Money, Less Effort

People who think money is the only true motivator in the workplace have a lot of explaining to do when it comes to professional basketball player Blake Griffin.

Until yesterday, Griffin, 31, played for the Detroit Pistons on a 2 year/$75,553,024 contract for an annual average salary of $37,776,512.

What did the lowly Pistons get for that? 12 points and 5 rebounds a game. Griffin’s anemic productivity is partly the result of a previous injury that cost him some athleticism, but mostly, NBA analysts say, because he wasn’t motivated given the Pistons’ futility.

Imagine being the Pistons owner and having to deal with the fact that $37,776,512 wasn’t enough for Griffin to play hard. All the king’s ransom bought was consistent mediocrity.

No wonder the Pistons let him go to the Eastern Conference leading Brooklyn Nets. Now apparently, he’s motivated, and is going to try to be some sort of facsimile of his former All-Star self.

Sometimes, Often, when it comes to exorbitant compensation in professional sports and other fields, there’s a definite point of diminishing returns.

5 thoughts on “Mo’ Money, Less Effort

  1. Pressing Pause, I agree that compensation isn’t the only motivating factor in any profession. Pro sports, however, offers us alternative ways to observe how an adult responds to compensation because a player’s salary, performance, and environment (is the team a winning organization) are so publicly transparent. Mr. Griffin would likely have performed better if even some of his $37M was reduced due to lackluster performance. A baseball player often has a good season in the last year of a deal where he is underpaid. There were concerns about (overtly) paying a track & field athlete because she or he may run too hard for a win or run when injured, but at that time we were okay with letting a football player run into another player for money. Here is one thing I do know: the myriad ways, and moments, in which we are motivated predominantly by compensation remain a mystery to me.

    • Thanks for expanding on my musings. I wouldn’t pretend to understand it either. Lower base salaries with incentives has been a reasonable response by some teams some times. I wonder if collective, team-based incentives based on wins or making playoffs or advancing in playoffs would ever fly. Of course then, the Mariners would be grossly underpaid relative to their peers. :)

  2. Would be interesting to get Blake’s viewpoint. He may have been working hard but coaches and other players did not have the right combination of style, planning to get the best out of Blake’s abilities. All of us have likely worked in situations where the employer/ employees did not have good chemistry or just the job requirements/responsibilities were not clear or efficient. Glad I don’t have my salary broadcast and people get to see my efforts at my job. Talk about living in a fishbowl! Of course I would tough it out for a year or 3 for $37 mil a year.

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