NBA Launches Blockchain-Enabled Collectibles Line

The basketball league is partnering with Dapper Labs to create secure tradeable blockchain tokens based on memorable events.

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Need to Know

  • NBA TopShot is a collaboration between the National Basketball Association and Dapper Labs, the agency behind other blockchain collectibles like CryptoKitties.
  • Limited-edition digital collectibles include player tokens, as well as collectible moments, which can be owned or trade with other collectors.
  • Ties to blockchain allow the collectibles to be verified and securely traded between players without worrying about fraud.
  • This collectibles project was first announced in July 2019 but has been in the works since 2018.

Analysis

On Wednesday, the NBA launched its long-awaited NBA Top Shot app, a collaboration with Dapper Labs that gives fans blockchain-protected digital tokens, offering an entirely new way for fans to enjoy the game.

Top Shot offers users the opportunity to collect not just player tokens, but also memorable moments from NBA games — such as Kawhi Leonard’s famous buzzer-beater — and to trade these tokens with fellow app users. The NBA and Dapper Labs are using blockchain tech in order to ensure these tokens remain “portable and permanent in a way nothing digital has ever been before,” Dapper Labs CEO said of the collaboration in 2019.

The app will also allow users to complete challenges for tokens, and challenge other users to one-on-one “games” using the collective skills of the roster of NBA players they’ve collected. There will also be an opportunity to trade tokens with other users.

NBA TopShot will launch with moments from the league’s 2019-2020 season, but there will be archival data added at a future date.

The app is not unique in its attempt to use blockchain tech to capitalize on sports fans’ affinity for memorabilia. In October of last year, Stryking Entertainment signed an agreement with German football club Bayern Munich to begin producing similar digital memorabilia to the NBA TopShot app’s offerings; earlier this year, the Sacramento Kings (an NBA team) launched its own blockchain-enabled auctioning platform. In addition, the Italian soccer team Juventus announced a partnership with blockchain platform Sorare to release digital trading cards.

Dapper Labs is no stranger to creating blockchain collectibles. The company is responsible for CryptoKitties, an online craze that saw ‘kitties’ bred, born, and traded between owners. Each kitty had its own verification process tied to the blockchain, and some kitties even sold for six figures. In fact, CryptoKitties has worked with the NBA before—in 2018, they created a kitty based off Steph Curry.

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