• Anthony Studnicka

If You Have Not Heard of the White-Hot NBA Top Shot, You Will Soon

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

By: Anthony Studnicka

Photo taken from NBA Top Shot Twitter: @nba_topshot

The newest craze for sports fans and memorabilia collectors is NBA Top Shot. NBA Top Shot is a video highlight collection platform. Perhaps, it is comparable to collecting sports cards. It was created by blockchain company Dapper Labs, as a part of a July 2019 agreement reached with the NBA.[1]

In short, fans can purchase a select highlight of their favorite players. While the NBA retains ownership to the highlight. The fan who purchases a highlight rather owns a specific version that is numbered and comes in the form of common, rare, legendary, or ultimate. Some versions are common cards, others are limited edition.

To clarify, fans are purchasing a highlight they can view online, from the Top Shot website, for free. In essence, what they are really purchasing is a numbered version of this highlight, essentially created out of thin air by NBA Top Shot. Sounds a little strange yet?

If you think this sounds strange and perhaps a waste of money, you are probably not alone. On the other hand, if you think this sounds fun and interesting, you are definitely not alone either. On January 15th, a Ja Morant highlight was purchased for a record-breaking $35,000. Yes, you read that right. A highlight you can view online for free was purchase for $35,000. To learn more about why the purchaser believes he got the steal of a lifetime, click here.

If you think spending $35,000 on a highlight is crazy, just wait. Things began to escalate quickly, as on January 19th a group of investors purchased a LeBron James highlight for $47,500. See the purchaser Jack Settleman[2] discuss it here. Hold on, things are just getting going. On January 22nd another LeBron James highlight was purchase for $71,455. The current maximum limit someone on the NBA Top Shot can sell a highlight for is currently $100,000, as of January 22nd, the limit was getting near.

On the morning of January 24th, the limit was met. Collector Jeremy Levine purchased a Zion Williamson highlight for $100,000, at the highest possible price. At this point, it seems inevitable that the maximum list price will soon be raised by NBA Top Shot.

If you want in on the fun, don’t let these prices scare you. While the amount of trading on NBA Top Shot is soaring to records highs it seems daily, the range for highlights began as low as $1. Further, while NBA Top Shot is a quickly growing platform, there are still dozens of NBA players yet to have a single highlight. In essence, one may wonder if we are just seeing the beginning.

The website comes with unique ways to engage their fans while collecting these highlights. In a similar fashion to collecting sports cards, buyers can purchase packs, strive to meet designated challenges, and attempt to complete a series set.

Ultimately what drives the value for these highlights is simple. Yes, anyone can view these highlights for free. However, the value is driven by the scarcity created on Top Shot and how many versions of the numbered highlights exist. When a card is sold on Top Shot, dapper and the NBA both receive a cut.[3] According to Darren Rovell of the Action Network a very unique wrinkle is added to this as, “when the NBA does a traditional trading card deal, licensing rights are based on projected primary sales and never take into account the secondary market because the card company doesn’t get a piece of that, nor does the NBA."[4] Here, both players get an undisclosed crack of the revenue twice.” Hence, the NBA may have an interest in the growth of this platform. Keep an eye out for Dabber Labs’ NBA Top Shot to possibly continue to grow over the coming months and years, especially if players continue to get involved like they have already. See here as Miami Heat’s Tyler Herro Lends Voiceover Chops to Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot. To learn more about NBA Top Shot tweet or DM us at @LongRunSports, and we’d be happy to share some other articles, or to simply chat about it! We are interested to see the potential growth of this platform and how it may impact other sports and the sport memorabilia collecting atmosphere.

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Anthony is a third-year student at Arizona State University pursuing a J.D. and a Master of Sports Law & Business. He is the creator of Long Run Sports.


[1] Darren Rovell, What Is NBA Top Shot? Blockchain NBA Highlight Market Explodes With 5-Figure Sales, Action Network (Jan. 21, 2021), https://www.actionnetwork.com/news/nba-top-shot-blockchain-nba-highlight-marketplace. [2] Id. [3] Id. [4] Id.

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