Basketball and Blockchain: NBA Announces a Modern Twist on Trading Cards

NBA Top Shot, a new platform being developed by the creators of a successful blockchain-based game, will allow fans to collect, trade, and compete with their favorite player moments.

One challenge of the blockchain that organizations struggle with—associations included—is the business case. Can you sell something based on blockchain technology, or can it help improve your processes in a tangible way?

The NBA—along with its players’ union, the National Basketball Players Association—may have found a way to make it work.

Recently, the league announced its collaboration with Dapper Labs, a company that created a successful virtual pet game called CryptoKitties two years ago, on a new trading and social platform called NBA Top Shot.

Think of it as a place where fans can collect and trade not trading cards or memorabilia, but “some of the greatest moments in league history” in digital form, according to a Dabber Labs news release. Rather than trading players, you’re trading winning shots or effective defensive plays. The blockchain guarantees authenticity, the company says.

The platform, which is planned for launch in the fall, will also allow for a social experience through a gaming element, as players take part in fantasy-style games in which the moves they collect—say, a three-pointer by Steph Curry—can be used to gain a competitive advantage.

“Through NBA Top Shot, basketball fans can engage with their favorite players, teams, and each other in entirely new ways,” said Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou. “We use the latest in blockchain technology to create assets and experiences that are guaranteed limited edition and authentic, not to mention portable and permanent in a way nothing digital has ever been before.”

Beyond giving the public a new way to collect and compete with league assets, the platform will also help the NBPA leverage its members’ personal brands—a major goal of its for-profit arm, Think450, which develops creative marketing strategies for the league’s 450 players. (The approach was modeled after the NFL, which generates $160 million in revenue from player licenses each year.)

Josh Goodstadt, executive vice president of licensing for Think450, said NBA Top Shot “is an entirely new way for fans to connect with their favorite athletes.”

“We believe blockchain technology creates a truly unique product that fans can collect, manage, and engage within a fun environment, and we are excited to partner with Dapper Labs to introduce these groundbreaking digital assets to the NBA community,” Goodstadt said.

(NBA Top Shot screenshot)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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