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Cryptocurrency, Top Shot, and the NBA

The ‘cryptocurrency’ boom is taking the world, and the sporting world, by storm. That excitement for ‘crypto’ and investing, in general, is starting to branch out of Discord chat rooms and into the mainstream. That crypto buzz has been growing rapidly in the professional sports world as well. Ahead, I will outline what the heck is crypto, blockchain, and NFT’s (non-fungible tokens). As well as how the NBA is integrating crypto into the fan experience, who is leading the way and the SURGE of NBA Top Shot!

What are ‘Crypto’ and the Blockchain

This article ‘What are ‘crypto’ and blockchain?‘ may do a better job than me fully describing crypto and blockchain.

A synopsis from the article,

Each Bitcoin is basically a computer file that is stored in a ‘digital wallet’ app, such as Coinbase, on a smartphone or computer. People can send Bitcoins (or part of one) to your digital wallet, and you can send Bitcoins to other people.

Every single transaction is recorded in a public list called the blockchain.This makes it possible to trace the history of Bitcoins to stop people from spending coins they do not own, making copies, or undoing transactions. Every transaction is recorded publicly so it’s very difficult to copy Bitcoins, make fake ones or spend ones you don’t own.

Investors like to use Bitcoin (BTC) for many reasons, including that it is not controlled by a bank or government, and users can be fairly anonymous, while still maintaining their security.

DISCLAIMER: Oh, and hey, this is not investing advice.

First Major Sports League Crypto-Based Sponsorship

One of the leading cryptocurrency trading platforms Coinbase has partnered with the NBA, WNBA, NBA G-League, NBA 2k League, and USA Basketball to form a ‘first of its kind’ partnership.

Coinbase can be described as, “… a software platform that allows cryptocurrency transactions, and the company makes money from fees.”

How Coinbase will fit into the NBA long-term is still unclear. Simply having exposure in a new market like the NBA will bring lots of new eyes, legitimacy, and money, to the crypto world. And there may be some crypto nerds who previously had no interest in the NBA, and now are interested. As well as NBA nerds who become interested in the crypto world … like ME!

Crypto and Professional Athletes

There has been a buzz around the professional sports world in the last few years in terms of athletes requesting to be paid in crypto. One of the most invested NBA players is Spencer Dinwiddie. An 8 year NBA veteran and current member of the Washington Wizards, Dinwiddie is very active in the convergence of the crypto and sports realm. Dinwiddie even went as far as attempting to set up a GoFundMe account for fans to donate to and have a ‘choice’ in his future. Read more on Dinwiddie and his attempt to raise crowd-sourced funds for his most recent free-agent contract. Once the donations hit a certain monetary goal, the fans would get to CHOOSE where he plays in the future. The NBA shot that down … for now.

From a recent article titled, “How the NFL and NBA are Adopting Blockchain and Crypto”

“A prominent advocate of cryptocurrency is Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie who has been negotiating with the NBA to have his contract turned into a digital bond called an SD8 security token.

The goal is to engage with his fans by enabling them to participate and share in the potential upside and for him to get money upfront. It’s a way to decentralize personal loans through bonds backed by contracts as collateral.”

Dinwiddie would not be stopped easily. Next, he attempted to ‘tokenize’ and sell off pieces of his $13.9 million contract to individual buyers on the blockchain. Due to many factors, mainly the shutdown of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the deal was not successful. Though, it creates a precedent for the future. Read MORE about ALL that here, it can be a bit confusing! Dinwiddie and a few others even created their own social media platform, Calaxy, which incorporates the blockchain, NFT’s, and more!

NBA Fan Experience and Cryptocurrency

Many professional sports organizations are incorporating cryptocurrency into the ‘fan experience’, in different ways. Recently, in August 2019 the Dallas Mavericks announced they would accept Bitcoin for tickets and merchandise. The Portland Trail Blazers inked the first-ever jersey-based logo sponsorship deal with StormX, a cryptocurrency trading platform. The Philadelphia 76ers followed suit, inking a similar jersey logo deal with Crypto.com, which is set to last for 6 years.

Sacramento Kings Leaders in the NBA Crypto World

The Sacramento Kings and owner Vivek Ranadive have been one of the tone setters in regards to North American pro sports and crypto integration.

An excerpt from the previously referenced article titled, “How the NFL and NBA are Adopting Blockchain and Crypto”,

“In 2014, The NBA’s Sacramento Kings became the first franchise to accept Bitcoin as a method of payment. At that time, the owners wanted to improve the customer experience by making it easier for them to purchase products and season tickets.

Fans can even spend their hard-earned or mined crypto on merchandise at NBA games!

On January 15, 2020, the Kings launched the first-ever blockchain auction platform for authentic memorabilia with ConsenSys, a blockchain software development firm, for live bidding on in-game sports gear using Treum, a ConsenSys-backed supply chain product. Now, fans can securely purchase authentic game-worn merchandise with greater confidence than previously possible.”

Many individual members of the Kings squad are interested and invested in the digital space, especially NFT’s.

Too bad for Kings fans that NFT’s didn’t exist when the Kings rocked those infamous golden jerseys back in the 2005-06 season.

First NBA Team Based NFT … a ‘Golden’ Idea

For the first time, fans can purchase an NFT (non-fungible token) from an NBA team, not sold on the NBA Top Shot platform. The Golden State Warriors issued these NFT’s through an auction which, “includes a mix of digital ticket stubs designed by Brazilian visual arts studio Black Madre and virtual (and physical) championship rings from the team’s Beverly Hills jeweler, President Brandon Schneider told CoinDesk. They will not feature images of the players themselves. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Warriors’ Community Foundation.”

Nothing crazy here, just another step towards the integration of the digital world into the NBA!

NBA Top Shot

NBA Top Shot is a first-of-its-kind form of art that combines the nostalgia of old-school trading cards with the new-school blockchain and NFT (non-fungible tokens) technology.

NBA Top Shot was described in a recent Market Watch article,

“NBA Top Shot is an online-only marketplace where users can buy, sell and trade NBA highlights. These highlights, or “moments,” are owned by users through a unique number. They’re basically virtual sports cards, but instead of a picture of a player with statistics on the back, you get a video highlight of a play like a LeBron James dunk or a Steph Curry 3-pointer.”

Through the NBA Top Shot site, users can buy individual moments or packs. As users increase their Collector Score, they increase their access to new packs and better spots in line for new packs. Users are able to create showcases, and build team collections, and more.

As NBA Top Shot has grown, so have the waiting lists to get new packs. In the early days, there was not much of a fight to get in line for these virtual moments. But as the word has spread the virtual top shot lines have been clogged! If you want a new pack these days, you’ll have to enter the queue and HOPE you can get within 10,000 spots of being one of the fortunate ones who get to open a new pack.

If you miss out on a new pack release, don’t fret, users can buy and sell individual moments on the marketplace. Through the Dapper Labs app, users can buy and sell moments in US Dollars (USD) and cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, BTC Cash, and Ethereum (ETH).

Sales of top shot moments can go for as low as $4 and have sold for as high as $280,000! That top sale was a LeBron James moment from the 2020 NBA Finals, with the serial number 23/79. LeBron has the four highest, and 7 of the top 10 all-time highest NBA Top Shot sales. Check out the list of the highest NBA Top Shot sales.

My Sports Card … Obsession

I have recently taken the plunge into the NBA Top Shot waters! As a kid (I am currently 32 years young) I LOVED collecting sports cards. It wasn’t just ‘getting something new’ but the whole atmosphere! Taking a Sunday drive with my dad in his roofing work truck, ladders ramblin’ down the rural Amador County roads to the local card shop. Eyes wide, walking into the card shop, talking to the owner about cards, teams, players, and gazing whimsically at the glossy cards behind the display case glass. There might be an NFL game or feature NBA on NBC game of the week on the television, or just some local sports talk radio humming over the KLH speakers … heavenly!

My GO-TO sports card shops as a kid were Cozy Collectibles in Sutter Creek, CA near where I grew up, and MVP Sports Cards in Pleasant Hill, CA when visiting my grandparents.

As a kid, I was grounded a few times, and one of those times I attempted to count all my sportscards! I got to around 5,000 and my grounding ended … and so did my counting! One of my upcoming ‘winter time projects’ is to search through my sports cards and see what do to next! I’m thinking display them, sell, trade, visit some local sports card shops, and just talk about the awesomeness of the sports card nostalgia!

Check out my personal NBA Top Shot collection! Let’s make a trade!

What Next?

Will YOU be diving into the digital world of investing and art? Have you already channeled your inner 1990’s kid and bought into the digital trading card market? Let me know on my Twitter, Instagram, or SacTown Crown Report website!

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