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Non-fungible token (NFT) mania has grabbed the attention and imagination of both cryptocurrency owners and mainstream collectors in 2021, thanks to the surging popularity of platforms like NBA Top Shot that has netted several early investors millions of dollars in pure profit. Is NBA Top Shot a slam dunk for sports memorabilia collectors or a fading hoop dream? Let's review what all the fuss is about!
Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific
provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade.
What is NBA Top Shot?
NBA Top Shot is a blockchain-based marketplace and platform that allows users to buy, sell and trade specific officially licensed NBA video highlights as unique digital collectibles that fans can own forever. The platform is easy to use, even for non-crypto users, and trading is limited to the official NBA Top Shot marketplace.
The NBA Top Shot trading platform is a joint venture between the National Basketball Association (NBA), the NBA Players Association and Dapper Labs, a Canadian blockchain developer, that was established in 2019. Like trading cards, fans can collect the NBA video highlights by buying, selling or trading them. But, unlike paper-based cards, an NBA Top Shot collectible, known as a "moment", is a digital-only tokenised video clip, created and issued as an NFT on the Flow blockchain.
The concept of NBA Top Shot is akin to regular trading cards in that both can be bought, sold and traded between sports fans.
Each moment or card has a different value, which is determined, for the most part, by the traders themselves. But, instead of being printed on paper, NBA Top Shot moments are stored as NFTs issued on the Flow blockchain, which is a digital permanent record that provides full ownership and provenance for holders.
Initially, each collectible gets introduced onto the platform as part of a limited package drop, sold to NBA Top Shot users on a first-come-first-served basis at a fixed retail price, for example US$199. Each package consists of a set number of unknown and random moments. The appeal of this is that it provides a level playing court for all customers to potentially strike it lucky and unearth a valuable and rare Top Shot in their package.
What are NFTs?
An NFT is a unique unit of data stored on a blockchain which certifies that its associated digital asset, such as image, file or video, is one-of-a-kind and therefore not interchangeable with other digital assets.
This is in contrast to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether, which are fungible (or mutually exchangeable) assets – meaning one Bitcoin could be exchanged for another Bitcoin because they have exactly the same characteristics and value, for example. This characteristic of NFTs makes them best suited for the creation of one-of-a-kind assets like NBA Top Shots.
What are NBA Top Shots?
Each Top Shot moment comprises a short video clip that replays a particular highlight in NBA history, such as LeBron James's 1-handed slam against the Sacramento Kings or Jayson Tatum's turnaround 3-pointer against the Brooklyn Nets.
Once you buy a Top Shot moment, it is stored in your digital wallet, allowing you to view the moments at any time, show them to your friends or sell them in the official marketplace for a profit.
Every moment has a fixed and specific number of copies, each with their own serial number. The number of copies for an NBA Top Shot moment helps determine its rarity and value.
Other factors such as the featured player and serial number also affect the price of each Top Shot. The disparity in prices is high, with some moments fetching over US$200,000, while others struggle to sell for only US$12.
How to buy NFTs on NBA Top Shot
There are 2 ways to buy moments:
Buy them in packs from the NBA Top Shot website
Buy specific moments on the official marketplace from a community member
Either way, you need an NBA Top Shot account.
NBA Top Shot account creation
Head over to the official NBA Top Shot website and create an account. You will need to enter your email address and mobile phone number.
After registering your credentials, you will be prompted to save a recovery code (similar to a crypto private key or recovery seed) which you should copy and keep somewhere safe in case you ever need to log in without your device. Writing it down on a piece of paper instead of keeping a digital copy (e.g. a screenshot) is highly recommended. If anyone gains access to your code, it will grant them access to your moments and enable this person to move them to their own wallet, where per the laws of blockchain technology, they will be irretrievably lost.
After signing up and storing your recovery code somewhere safe, you will be greeted with a welcoming message and a short intro to the NBA Top Shot platform and digital collectibles community. Click "Get Started" at the bottom. Next, you'll be asked to join the Discord community and choose your favourite basketball team, which you can skip for now.
Purchase your first NBA Top Shot moment or pack
Option 1: Purchase a pack
Next, you'll be prompted to get your first pack. Click on it. You'll be directed to the packs page.
As you can see from above, they get sold out really fast, so chances are you will have to wait for a few days for them to be restocked. If you happen to catch them while they're in stock, good for you! If not, you can opt to reserve a Base Set, which consists of 3 common moments, which the platform offers to new users only. Click on the Base Set and then click on "Reserve".
Option 2: Purchase a moment from the marketplace
Some collectors might be eyeing a specific moment. If you're one of them, your best bet is to head over to the marketplace and buy from another user.
Step 1: Search for a specific moment
Click the search bar and look for your moment of choice. You can filter out your search based on the player, team, set, tier, price, game start and end date and more.
Step 2: Select and buy
Found what you're looking for? Click on it and then click "Select and buy". You will be shown a list of sellers and their prices. As you can see, prices are quite arbitrary, with vast differences in pricing even between moments with the same content.
Note that you can buy 2 or more moments if needed. Once you've chosen a seller, click on "Select a moment" at the bottom.
Step 3: Purchase your NBA Top Shot
The platform accepts 2 modes of payment: credit cards or cryptocurrencies. If you opt for the former, you will be asked for your card details.
If you prefer to pay with cryptocurrencies, you can top up your Dapper wallet with:
You can also pay directly with FLOW, the Flow blockchain's native digital asset.
How to sell NFTs on NBA Top Shot
Selling your moments on the marketplace is even more straightforward than buying. Just follow the steps below:
Go over to your moments page.
Choose which moment you want to sell and click on it.
Click on "Place for sale".
Which NFTs can you buy on NBA Top Shot?
The NBA Top Shot platform is exclusively reserved for NBA Top Shot NFTs and does not allow you to buy other Dapper Labs collectibles such as the popular CryptoKitties.
Packs are a random collection of moments that users buy at an advertised price directly from NBA Top Shot. In general, it's cheaper than buying moments on the secondary market, where the price may get inflated if it's collectible enough. However, you won't know exactly which moments you'll get until you buy and open the packs.
Sets are curated collections of Top Shot collectibles and are akin to decks in trading cards. For example, the Rookie Debut set is a collection of moments from the top up-and-coming NBA stars like Jordan McLaughlin and Jarrel Brantley while the Throwdowns set consists of 20 of the most memorable dunks in basketball history.
A moment's rarity level is determined by its tier. The platform has 4 collectible tiers: common, rare, legendary and ultimate. The common tier packs contain around 10,000 or more copies while the rare and legendary tiers respectively boast 150–4,999 and 25–499 moments only. Not much is known about the ultimate tier other than the fact that no packs are available yet and that it is the rarest of all tiers.
One of the most important attributes to consider when purchasing a moment or ascertaining its potential value is its serial number. Each Top Shot NFT has a unique serial number linked to it, to differentiate it from other Top Shot NFTs depicting the same highlight.
This is where the real collectibility and sports memorabilia aspects of NBA Top Shot shine, driving up the value of moments with sought-after serial numbers denoting further meaning to the video clips. As a rule of thumb, lower numbers generally equate to higher prices, but this isn't always the case. For instance, a Kevin Durant Top Shot that has a serial number of 7 might generally be priced higher than serial numbers 2 to 6, since 7 is Durant's jersey number.
Kobe Bryant-related moments with symbolic serial numbers (e.g. his jersey number or date of death) are also incredibly sought-after.
NBA Top Shot fees
The Top Shot marketplace charges 5% for every moment sold to the seller. For instance, if you sold a moment for $100, you would receive $95 in your wallet. The platform doesn't charge for listing and delisting moments.
Is NBA Top Shot safe to use?
The NBA Top Shot platform and marketplace are safe places to buy and trade since they are built by Dapper Labs, one of the most reputable blockchain companies to date. It has also launched other successful projects such as CryptoKitties. NBA Top Shot is also a joint venture with the NBA, so it doesn't really get any more official than that.
Pros and cons of NBA Top Shot
Easy to use and pay. One of Top Shot's most impressive achievements is the ease with which it blends blockchain technology and standard ecommerce practice within its ecosystem, seamlessly allowing the buying, selling and trading on the platform. Other NFT marketplaces can require you to set up the likes of MetaMask and other digital wallets when onboarding which can be complicated for the average non-technical consumer. In contrast, Top Shot only asks you to create an account. The platform allows you to pay with a credit card, which makes it ideal for customers who don't own any cryptocurrency.
Fewer risks. Since you can only acquire these NFTs on NBA Top Shot's official website and marketplace, there's less risk of scams or counterfeits. Some users in the community might sell at extremely steep prices, but everything is transparent.
Imperishable. Unlike physical card collectibles, NBA Top Shot moments are digital assets that do not decay, allowing collectors to keep them forever and pass them on to future generations as long as the Flow blockchain continues to exist.
Innovative blockchain. The Flow blockchain is designed to run the next generation of DApps, games and collectibles, allowing fast and low-cost transfer of moments from user to user.
Exclusive. Unfortunately, Top Shot NFTs are only tradable in the official marketplace and not platform-agnostic. This means you can't list them on OpenSea, Rarible and other decentralised platforms.
Flow blockchain. The Flow blockchain might be innovative and fast, but it doesn't have as large an ecosystem as Ethereum. This also means that it doesn't have the same extensive developer toolset and integrations, which might limit its short-term usability. However, with cross-chain interoperability increasingly a focus in the blockchain space, this issue could be solved with time.
With over US$500 million in sales in its first 6 months after its open beta launch, NBA Top Shot has been the biggest NFT success story so far in the digital asset class's brief existence, capturing the imagination and attention of mainstream sports fans.
Dapper Labs has taken the tried-and-tested concept of sports memorabilia cards, capturing both the nostalgia and desire they evoke and using the NBA and NFT technology as vehicles to present an innovative and gamified product for avid NBA fans and collectors worldwide.
While being built on a new blockchain ecosystem like Flow may pose initial limitations, Dapper Labs has a proven track record of successful ventures in the NFT space and is working on advancing its ecosystem to cater to all necessities required for its products.
Frequently asked questions
Most NFT marketplaces at present do not support the Flow blockchain, so you cannot list your Top Shots on their platforms for now.
Open your wallet via the accounts page, select "Payments & Payouts" from the left menu, then type the amount you wish to deposit in the field. Choose your payment and then confirm your deposit.
Top Shot NFTs are native to the Flow blockchain, which doesn't support Metamask. For now, you can only store them in your Dapper wallet.
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You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory
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have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.
Werner Vermaak is a technical writer and blockchain consultant with an extensive 20-year marketing resume across Taiwan, the UK and South Africa. He came across Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in Taiwan during mid-2017 and has worked with several companies and projects in the areas of crypto security, regulations, custody and new fields such as DeFi, NFTs and Web 3.0 since. Werner has a business degree from Stellenbosch University and postgraduate qualifications in strategic marketing from the AAA School of Advertising. Werner enjoys geeking out on new technology and pondering the mass adoption of digital assets.
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