The Golden State Warriors are diving into new territory, becoming the first professional sports team to launch a nonfungible token (NFT) collection, the in-demand digital investment that has been quickly gaining popularity.
The team announced this week that it would start selling the collection, which includes collectibles from the team’s five-year run to the NBA Finals, and follows the NBA’s successful move into the NFT market earlier this year.
Warriors Commemorate Historic Moments
As the BBC explained, NFTs are unique digital assets similar to paintings or other pieces of art. But unlike other digital art that can be duplicated, NFTs come with a digital certificate of ownership that proves the art is the only one of its kind — which the outlet compared to a piece of art autographed by the creator.
Warriors president Brandon Schneider told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne that the team has been studying the NFT marketplace for the past three months and decided to come up with a collection that could be engaging for fans and commemorate historic moments for the franchise.
“Ultimately, they decided to create digital championship rings to commemorate each of the team’s six NBA titles as well as digital ticket stubs from some of their most iconic games, such as their victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on April 13, 2016, which broke the NBA single-season record for wins (73),” Shelburne wrote.
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While it’s not clear how much the NFTs could sell for, some around the world have fetched hefty sums. As the BBC noted, an animated gif of the 2011 meme Nyan Cay — showing an animated cat flying with a stream of rainbows behind it — sold for more than $500,000. The artist Grimes sold some of her digital art for more than $6 million.
NFTs Up For Auction
The Warriors put their collection up for sale starting on Tuesday, with the auction set to run through Saturday and including some other physical items like a ring designed to honor the team’s NBA titles and experiences like meeting the team. Buying the NFTs will not be a straightforward process, however. As Shelburne reported for ESPN, the auction is run through the NFT marketplace OpenSea, which only accepts the cryptocurrency ether as payment.
Part of the proceeds from the auction of the collection will benefit the Warriors Community Foundation, Schneider told ESPN. That will in part replace the team’s normal fundraiser, a poker tournament with all of the players that had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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It appears that the collection will likely net a tidy profit for the Warriors as well. As Shelburne added, the league has launched an NFT collection of its own in the fall, already making an estimated $500 million in sales. That figure caused the Warriors to take notice.
“This is the wave of the future,” Schneider said. “So we’ve been studying what the best way for us to get involved and create something for our fans is.
“NFTs have been around for years, but they’ve really become more mainstream and popular this year. The inflection point for us was really just watching NBA Top Shot start to explode.”