The Unexpected Rise of NBA Top Shot

    • The sports memorabilia industry is no longer solely associated with tangible assets.
    • NBA Top Shot has become the new way basketball enthusiasts collect memorabilia.

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The sports memorabilia industry is expanding beyond tangible assets.

NBA Top Shot, a blockchain-based marketplace, has exploded with basketball enthusiasts. Fans are buying, selling and trading assets in the same fashion as trading cards — only these collectibles aren’t cardboard, they are licensed digital “moments” of top NBA highlights.

Moments are released individually or in packs, with varying levels of scarcity. A rare 13-second clip of Zion Williamson’s first career block recently sold for $100,000.

One look at the 24-hour market movement shows just how much the craze has caught on: 

  • Total volume of 24-hour sales exceeded $8 million as of 6 p.m. ET on Feb. 18.
  • 22,000 sellers and 13,000 buyers were active in the marketplace in the same period.
  • A 1-of-275 Jamal Murray dunk was bought six months ago for $21 and sold Thursday for $699. The highest sale of the same dunk was $1,000 in January.
  • A 1-of-7500 Steph Curry three-pointer was bought one month ago for $29 and sold Thursday for $349. The highest previous sale of that moment was $3,030.

The digital highlights can be purchased using cryptocurrency and are linked to serial numbers that guarantee authenticity. However, buyers don’t own the highlights outright — intellectual property rights still belong to the NBA.

Powered by blockchain product developer Dapper Labs, Top Shot currently has more than 65,000 users and has handled over $85 million in transactions. Last week, Dapper announced plans for a $250 million fundraise at a $2 billion valuation. The company says it’s profitable.