If you’re still somehow in tune with everything that’s going on in the world, you may have heard the fuss about cryptocurrencies, blockchains, or NBA Top Shot. The latter has proved to be a money-making machine since its inception in October 2020. It has crossed the $700 million mark in total sales in less than a year as the NBA looks to go digital with its collectibles.
Despite cryptocurrencies’ rise in popularity in the last few years, the concept is still confusing for many. Let’s dive into the crypto world a little bit as we aim to know more about NBA Top Shot and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).
What is NBA Top Shot?
NBA Top Shot is an online marketplace where people trade NBA highlights. Instead of collecting physical NBA cards, you can now do so virtually by owning a moment of an NBA player’s career. These may include dunks, crossover highlights, game-winners, or historical moments like Zion Williamson’s first-ever career block.
These “moments” exist in the blockchain, a term you may have often heard that has something to do with cryptocurrencies. In cryptocurrency lingo, a blockchain is a system of recording information or transactions that are inherently very difficult to hack or change. The “moments” sold are non-fungible or unique, and thus, a type of Non-fungible Token (NFTs). NFTs use blockchain technology to keep the history of the collectibles, including transaction logs and the serial numbers of each item.
A keyword to pay attention to here is “owning.” By saying a user “owns” a highlight of that moment, that does not necessarily mean he “owns” the rights to it. He “owns” it because it will be his forever unless he decides to sell it. The said “moment” may still be available on Youtube or all over the Internet, but that doesn’t necessarily make it less valuable.
How? To illustrate: A LeBron James rookie card, which is literally one of its kind, is worth millions. But that doesn’t change the fact that anyone could print a picture of James in his maiden year along with some stats pulled up on Basketball-Reference on a piece of paper.
Still, a card of this type is worth seven figures because of how rare it is, not the fact that the information printed in it is readily available. Somebody paid $5.2 million for essentially a printed piece of paper. The same logic applies here for NBA Top Shot moments.
How NBA Top Shot Works
If you’re questioning the legitimacy of this system, then don’t. The NBA has partnered with Dapper Labs, a Vancouver-based company responsible for the popular CryptoKitties game. Dapper Labs knows what it’s doing in the crypto space. (Of course, it’s up to you whether you’d buy one for yourself or observe on the sidelines. The point is, as far as minting NFTs in the blockchain goes, Dapper Labs is a bonafide leader in the industry.)
Here’s how NBA Top Shot works:
• The NBA provides Dapper Labs with the highlights. Dapper decides how many of each highlight they are going to sell and gives them serial numbers.
• Dapper Labs puts each highlight into digital packs, sells it for $9 at the minimum, and topped at $230. Starter packs contain three moments, all of which are labeled as “common.” “Common” moments mean they have created 40,000 copies of this particular highlight. The farther you are in your digital collection journey, the more access you have to rare packs.
• After you purchase a pack and “unbox” the moments, you may either keep them in your collection or sell them in the marketplace. They have a Price Helper feature that lets you know how many other collectors of the exact “moment” are selling it in the market. You may decide to go over or under the average price of sale. The point is, they’ll let you know, and it’s your decision after that.
• When you buy packs, the NBA receives an undisclosed amount of money as royalty. When you sell to the marketplace, Dapper Labs collects a 5% fee off of the payment.
• From my observations, NBA Top Shot has ensured that every pack has a “moment” from which every collector can profit. My first pack cost $9 and had a LeBron James “moment” that costs at least $42 in the open market.
If you want to get a feel of it yourself, go to the NBA Top Shot official website. It’s intuitive enough to collect “moments” and start trading in minutes.
Check out our feature article on Larry Bird – The Legend.
10 Biggest NBA Top Shot Sales To Date
The market has calmed down recently, but if you have been around in February 2021, you knew what I was talking about. A T.J. McConnell everyday moment costs about $3 sold for $100, and a Donovan Mitchell assist moment went from 70 bucks to a thousand practically overnight. With that said, can you imagine how much the genuinely “rare” and “legendary” collectibles are sold for?
1.) LeBron James “2020 NBA Finals” #23 of 79 ($230,023)
One card is up for listing at $70,000 as of this writing, but I don’t know what happened on the fateful day of August 26, 2021. Username @GrindBuySell, a person who’s been around since the platform’s inception, bought it for over $230,000.
2.) LeBron James “From the Top” #12 of 59 ($210,000)
This one was LeBron’s tribute dunk to Kobe Bryant against the Houston Rockets. The numbers of this series have a pretty outrageous history. The lowest sale of this “moment” is a shade under $1,000. In 2021, the lowest it has gone is $5,000 until a transaction was made on March 20 for $210,000.
3.) LeBron James “Cosmic” Dunk #29 of 49 ($208,000)
There are only 49 of these digital moments in existence. When it was sold on February 22, 2021, it went to a user named Jesse for $208,000. The previous sale was $49,000, and the lowest of any sale ever was $3,750 for #28. One collector is listing it for $1,000,000, but I don’t think it’s viable yet until something happens.
4.) LeBron James “From the Top” #17 of 59 ($210,000)
See, No. 2.
5.) Fred VanVleet, Common Base Set #11511 of 15,000 ($140,190)
Right now, this common Fred VanVleet “moment” is sold for $8 to $16. This is the perfect example of why you can make money off NBA Top Shot on any random night. It’s unlikely, but if it rains, it pours.
The Next Five
6.) LeBron James “From the Top” #12 of 59 ($125,000)
This is the same moment and serial number as No. 4. It was sold on February 25, 2021, for $125,000 and flipped for $210,000 less than a month later.
7.) Zion Williamson “Holo MMXX” #28 of 50
This one is Zion’s first career block, and he made it memorable. Seven of these are for sale, and you can have the cheapest one for $65,000.
8.) LeBron James, Dunk Common Base Set #5 of 1,000 ($110,623)
Again, a standard base set “moment” sold for six figures. It just shows how volatile the market is and that some players like LeBron are worth holding on to.
9.) LeBron James, Dunk Common Base Set #8 of 1,000 ($110,023)
LeBron doing LeBron.
10.) (Tie) Ja Morant “Holo MMXX” #8 of 25 ($100,000)
This Ja Morant highlight went from $4000 to a hundred thousand in more than three months.
LeBron James “Throwdowns” #1 of 275 ($100,000)
LeBron James “From the Top” #1 of 59 ($100,000)
Zion Williamson “Holo MMXX” #1 of 50 ($100,000)
More NBA Top Shot Stats and Numbers
- On February 22-23, 2021, NBA Top Shot recorded sales of just $46,000,000.
- There are now over 60 transactions that involve spending at least $50,000. Of the 60, 43 involve LeBron James “moments.”
- NBA Top Shot right now is valued at $7.5 billion.
- Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic bought his own “moment” at Top Shot. He purchased the jersey-matching serial No. 13 for $2,300.
- Common moments sold at Top Notch are moments that have over 1,000 digital copies.
- “Rare” are moments that have 150-999 copies.
- “Legendary” are moments that have 25-99 copies.
- Platinum ultimate (3 copies) and digital ultimate (1 copy) are only available through auction.
Is it Safe to Dabble with NBA Top Shot or Other NFT Projects?
To many, NBA Top Shot, or other NFT projects for that matter, is a bubble that will just burst as quickly as it appears. It may be a fad now until it dies and the next one comes along. Well, to be fair, CryptoKitties never caught my fancy, but that doesn’t mean you and I should not give NBA Top Shot a chance.
Like the point mentioned before, owning a digital highlight in the form of “moments” is no different from owning a basketball card made of paper. Both have value because people are willing to pay for their rarity. The latter’s disadvantage is that it can be destroyed, and the material it’s made of regresses over time, not so in the case of NFTs.
Then, what about its safety? Digitally owning a collectible is generally safe. The danger lies if you get greedy, invest too much in it, and expect to make a quick buck. You can make money from it overnight, but don’t bet your house on it if you want to spare yourself the needless headache.
Many athletes have come to recognize the potential of digital collectibles and tinkering with NFT projects. NBA veterans Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant are actually investors at Dapper Labs, not to mention the great Michael Jordan himself.
The GOAT Enters the Field
As he always has, Tom Brady wants to change the entire sports memorabilia game with his NFT platform Autograph. While NBA Top Shot is digital basketball card collecting and trading at its core, Autograph has a chance to be more than that! The platform will sell digital sports memorabilia from Brady and other sports legends such as Tony Hawk, Wayne Gretzky, and Derek Jeter. Imagine how exciting that’s going to be!
Aside from these ventures from the NBA, its players, and Brady, more NFT projects follow suit. The MLB, the NFL, and the UFC are already in talks to go digital with Dapper Labs. I guess it’s safe to say that the NFT revolution is in full swing, and we are just scratching the surface of its applications in the real world.
By Jan Rey
Jan is a sucker for all things basketball and still yells, “Kobe!” every time he tosses a crumpled paper into a trash bin.
You are on our NBA Top Shot: Next-Level Basketball Collectibles page.
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