NBA Top Shot: Basketball Meets Web3 - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

All of the fan favorite highlights in the NBA and WNBA – a slam dunk, a three-point buzzer beater, a fancy assist –  have been minted and become non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Through a collaboration between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Dapper Labs, a big force in the NFT space most noted for their CryptoKitties NFTs, NBA Top Shot has launched itself as one of the hottest new virtual platforms to buy and sell NFTs. Through its appeal to a massive audience of sports fans and trading card enthusiasts, NBA Top Shot aims to achieve success by bringing blockchain into the mainstream spotlight. And quite frankly, it is already doing so as in 2021, the platform recorded over $800 million in NFT trades with its 1.1 million registered users.

What are NBA Top Shot NFTs?

NBA Top Shot names its NFTs as Moments. These NFTs are created when the NBA licenses highlight clips to DapperLabs who mints them and turns them into Top Shot Moments. While there is a common misconception amongst the community that users are simply buying a highlight, Caty Tedman, head of partnerships at DapperLabs, clarifies by stating “the thing you own is really so much more than that. It’s highlights that are smashed together with a ton of data. We put so much data on chain having to do with that moment in time, how the team is performing, how the player is performing. So we pull all of that together in a great package and we put that on chain. So it’s really not owning a highlight, it’s owning a collectible.”

Tedman elaborates on the concept of ownership by saying “The other piece is that you don’t own that highlight that you watch. You don’t have any rights to commercialise it in the way that you can sell it to somebody else in its entirety. So the really big difference is that true ownership piece.”

How NBA Top Shot Works

NBA Top Shot is a virtual trading card platform that is built on blockchain, specifically on the FLOW blockchain, which was built by Dapper Labs when the company realized they needed a scalable network that could support numerous users. When compared to popular blockchain Ethereum’s thirteen to fifteen transactions per second, FLOW excels by having the capacity to support one-thousand transactions per second. Additionally, there is a low transaction fee. All of this supports Dapper Lab’s vision to make FLOW into a developer-friendly platform that is primarily built for applications and digital assets such as NFTs.

After users create their accounts, they are able to buy and sell Top Shot Moments in order to curate their own collections. Similar to physical trading cards, Moments come in Packs, which come in Sets. Of course, Top Shot Moments are separated by rarity. They come in four different categories, and here they are:

  • Common: An overwhelming majority of Moments belong in the Common category, where there over 50,000 of the same NFTs can exist
  • Fandom: Fandom Moments hold special value because they are obtained through special means. For example, they can be obtained through attending particular in-person events or by completing certain challenges or quests that Top Shot creates for its users.
  • Rare: These are Moments that are harder to acquire because there are less of them minted. Rare Moments typically have about 1000 of the same NFT in circulation.
  • Legendary:  Legendary Moments are extremely hard to get your hands on because they only comprise 0.09% of all Moments. Typically, there are only about 100 of each Legendary Moment.

Naturally, Top Shot Moments derive value from scarcity, so in theory, the less supply there is of a Moment, the more value it holds. Specific Moments also gain value for other reasons. Usually, lower, somewhat taboo, and unique mint numbers tend to go for more on the marketplace. For example, a mint number of 1 or 420 will sell at higher prices. Additionally, mint numbers that match the jersey numbers of the player will be valued much higher. 

If you want to get started, Starter Packs are an easy entryway. These packs typically feature three Common Moments, and are priced at $9. Of course, there are special packs as well with better loot. To mention one, Magic Johnson has collaborated with Top Shot to release his very own pack – filled with some of his favorite moments from his 13 year career. This collection is titled “The Anthology: Magic Johnson” and is set to drop on June 7, 2022. 

What are the Benefits of Owning Top Shot Moments?

Besides the gamified experience Top Shot offers to fans when they collect Moments of their favorite players, NBA Top Shot has announced its future plans with the virtual marketplace – and it is looking good for basketball fans. While the official implementation date is still in the works, Dapper Labs have recently announced that certain Top Shot Moments and collections will grant owners VIP tickets, merchandise, and more. The exact details are yet to come, but many fans and owners remain hopeful as Web3 is becoming more prominent in the mainstream world as more and more people are finding various uses for it.


Daniel Shin is a contributor to Identity Review from the University of Southern California.

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