Retired Players the Next Frontier for NBA Top Shot

    • Retired players currently comprise a fraction of the NFTs on the Top Shot marketplace.
    • Dapper Labs planning more limited series in the future.

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NBA Top Shot has generated about $500 million in sales, with just a fraction of that total coming from NFTs created for retired players. There’s no “Moment,” for example, that features Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, or Kobe Bryant. 

That could soon change.

“We have had retired players reach out to us wanting to see themselves memorialized as Top Shots,” said Mikhael Naayem, Dapper Labs co-founder and chief business officer, during a recent Legends Investment Network panel discussion. “We are lucky that we have a product that really resonates with the market and that players want to be part of.”

So far, the “Run it Back Series” is the only one to include former players with Moments from the 2013-14 season. 

Using retired players is a trickier process since they aren’t covered by the group licensing agreement like current players. The National Basketball Retired Players Association handles licensing for former NBA players, including deals with Top Shot.

A person with knowledge of the so-called “carve-out” process told Front Office Sports that Jordan is among several players who have set limits with the NBRPA when it comes to their likeness usage. 

“We’re really committed to bringing in the right individual partners as we need to, and we’re absolutely willing to put in the legwork to make that happen,” Caty Tedman, head of partnerships at Dapper Labs, told FOS. “A Top Shot that doesn’t have Michael Jordan in it would be somewhat incomplete.”