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NBA Top Shot: The Future of Trading Cards

By: Jaden Narwal

Over the past few weeks, a new company has become the focus of the online sports world. NBA Top Shot, developed by Vancouver-based company Dapper Labs, is a platform that sells NBA-licensed highlight clips. They take an individual player's highlight and develop it into a package along with 3D animations and the player’s stats. The company uses blockchain technology, a form of cryptocurrency, to verify the authenticity of the content. Each highlight is also given a serial number to show how many of its kind are produced.

The company offers highlight packs for users to purchase, as well as a secondary market to buy and sell them. Users can purchase the initial packs within a price range of $9 to $230. The most expensive package thus far was a highlight of LeBron James that sold for $208,000. Once purchased, the highlight is added to the user's personal secured digital wallet. On the secondary market, Dapper Labs takes a 5% cut of all sales. The NBA also takes a certain percentage on these secondary transactions.

NBA Top Shot currently has over 66,000 users and has generated over $85 million in sales since launching in 2019. To put its recent growth into perspective, last week alone, the company generated $53.9 million in sales.

There is a common concern surrounding the long-term value of these highlights, as they are easily accessible through YouTube and social media. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had a fair explanation regarding the company's value: “I get to enjoy knowing I own my Maxi Kleber dunk moment, along with knowing the serial number and much more. Some people might complain that I can get the same video on the internet anywhere any time and watch it. Well, guess what, I can get the same picture on any traditional, physical card on the internet and print it out, and that doesn’t change the value of the card. And when I want to sell the card, NBA Top Shots offers a marketplace I can sell it on.”

The NBA has always been commended for its forward-thinking, adaptable approach to the world of sports, business, and technology. This is yet another example of them getting ahead of the curb on a new trend. A classic hobby with a thriving new digital platform. With the popularity of cryptocurrency continuing, Dapper Labs is likely to move into other sports leagues as well. While the demand remains high, the phenomenon does not look to be slowing down anytime soon.

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