Submitted by: Bea Alaine Collins

Although a good many NFT assets experienced a rollicking crash not so long ago, a number of institutions are going ahead with their plans to expand their use.
And outside of art, sports teams and leagues have become big players in the space.

The NBA is no exception to that, with some of the finest players around investing substantially in them and other blockchain-based digital assets.

So what is it about the Mavs that justifies the headline?

Early Adopters: Leading on Digital Assets

Before non-fungible tokens became the hot new thing, there was the cryptocurrency boom. And here’s where the Mavericks were already ahead of the pack. While players like current Mavericks (then Nets) star Spencer Dinwiddie were just starting to move more seriously into the space in 2019 — Dinwiddie accepted Bitcoin payments and even moved his contract to the blockchain — the Mavericks added cryptocurrencies to the list of options for ticket purchases. Bitcoin may have already been a decade old at that point, but it hadn’t made a lot of headway in sports, so it took people like Mark Cuban to get the ball rolling.

More recently, Cuban announced a partnership with brokerage Voyager Digital, citing his belief that more education on the underlying tech needs to spread. And while not strictly necessary in NFT trading, crypto is an important sister technology that popularized the concept of the modern digital asset.

NFT Integration

Rather than resting on its laurels, the Mavs moved seamlessly into NFTs about as soon as it became apparent that they were sticking around as a concept. And in typical Cuban fashion, rather than experimenting, he went in big.

Photo: Unsplash

Regular in-person game attendees will be more than aware of the offer of commemorative NFTs created on the Polygon network in partnership with Ticketmaster and NFT.kred, 20,000 of which are minted per game to give those who are able to make it down to Victory Park. Although the primary stated intention is for them to be keepsakes that really prove you were there when some epic basketball went down, rather than high-value assets like the famous Bored Apes, that hasn’t stopped the team from creating its own trading platform on which to find them going for anything between a fistful of dollars to thousands. In the process, the NFTs presumably also encourage in-person attendance after the pandemic restrictions.

In addition to those minted for individual games, there are now tokens made for cute pixelated versions of famous players and even a series of custom designs based on fan-favorite Mavrello Ballovic. Special ones were also distributed when Dallas legend Dirk Nowitzki hung up his jersey. Cuban has pointed out that given the popularity of profile picture NFTs, purchasing them allows fans to celebrate their fandom in an online space.

Where Next?

Clearly, it hasn’t escaped Cuban’s notice that tickets to some games are themselves pretty valuable. This is why he’s discussed the idea of making tickets themselves available as NFTs. Ticket costs may be recouped through resale, Cuban points out.

At least two dozen NBA teams have partnered with Socios fan tokens of late, a platform with fungible currency-like tokens each associated with a sports team or company. Fan tokens are used on the official app to get access to things like special edition merch, and NFTs or take part in various team-related decisions and activities.

The first Association team to join the platform about a year ago was the 76ers, but there has been some speculation as to whether the remainder will sign up. For now, though, the only ‘fan tokens’ the Mavs are making available are the NFTs.

In short, the Mavs have embraced the brave new world of NFTs and associated digital ledger technologies with open arms, albeit judiciously.
And we can expect them to keep pushing the envelope into the future.

Featured Image: Unsplash
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