The Golden State Warriors today launched a new NFT (non-fungible token) collection, becoming the first team in U.S. professional sports to release their own officially licensed NFTs. It’s no surprise to see an NBA team diving in first and in particular the Warriors. “We're always looking to be innovative and think about new ways to engage our fans,” Brandon Schneider, the Warriors Chief Revenue Officer, and incoming President said in a call yesterday.
NFTs have exploded onto the NBA scene
NFTs have exploded onto the scene over the past few months, and nowhere has that explosion been more visible than on NBA Top Shot, the marketplace where basketball fans and collectors can buy, sell and trade NFTs. As reported in Forbes last week, NBA Top Shot alone was responsible for a third of the $1.5 billion NFT trading volume seen in the first quarter.
So what’s the appeal of NFTs, and why have they emerged so suddenly? “If you compare a basketball card to a Top Shot moment, you start to realize why people like NFT's.” Schneider, a long-time basketball business executive, explained. “Basketball cards - you have to send them somewhere to get graded, that takes six months to a year, you’ve got to store them somewhere, then you’ve got to figure out where to sell them. You don't know how many are created, you don't know what the card has sold for before, who's owned it. Then compare that to an NFT, or in this case, NBA Top Shot moment. You know everyone that's owned it and what price it sold for, storing it obviously is not an issue at all. You don't have to worry about getting anything graded. There's full transparency.”
What’s in the collection?
As for the Warriors jumping in first, Schneider believes that there is real value in the legitimacy of something created by an NBA franchise in a marketplace where anyone can create and sell an NFT. Then there’s the product itself. “There's a lot more you can do with an NFT than a static sports card,” Schneider added.
The Warriors certainly have gone to town with this collection, which they’ve dubbed the “Golden State Warriors Legacy NFT Collection”. A select number of bidders will have the chance to secure the championship ring NFTs, created by Jason of Beverly Hills, who created the Warriors' actual championship rings in 2015, 2017, and 2018. Then there is a one-of-one NFT combining all six championships into a single one-ring NFT to rule them all (though the Warriors will presumably eschew any Mordor-related comparisons).
There is also a collection of special ticket stubs. Each ticket stub was hand-illustrated and digitally created by the artist Black Madre and commemorates everything from the first-ever Warriors game, to championship-winning games, to the 2007 “We Believe” game where the Warriors knocked off the top seed in a first-round upset, an experience they’d surely love to repeat this year.
On top of that, the Warriors have produced a special edition Warriors Golden Ticket NFT combining 75 years of historic franchise moments into a one-of-one ticket stub NFT.
The uniqueness of the offer is something the Warriors are hoping will generate significant interest from bidders, not least as some of the proceeds will go to the Warriors Community Foundation. “In general you can't buy a Warriors’ championship ring, right, you had to be on the team. So to create an NFT of these things we think creates special value to them,” said Schneider. Add to that the uniqueness of being part of an auction of the first-ever NFTs created by a sports team, and Schneider thinks that will also drive value. “That's never going to change, you were always somebody who owns an NFT from the first sports team ever to do it, which we think is really cool.”
The future of NFTs
The Warriors wouldn’t have gone to all this effort if they thought NFTs were just a fad. So what does the future hold? “Well, if I knew the answer to that question, I'd probably be doing something else than what I'm doing right now!” Schneider joked. “I don't think anyone knows that but I think what we're pretty confident in is this is just the beginning and NFTs, it's not a flash in the pan...We think you're going to see a ton more applications for this moving forward in terms of what we're going to do.”
When pressed Schneider mused on “different levels” of NFTs which create “different levels of scarcity and value”. An example he throws out is collectible ticket stubs in a world where digital tickets are increasingly becoming the norm. “Could that be paired with an NFT of that actual ticket that either comes with the ticket price or as a separate add-on, that people can buy because people still do want that collectible?... is that a static thing where everyone gets the same ticket? Do we create something where people can create their own image on their NFT to make it personalized?”
What’s clear is the Warriors are just getting started in the NFT space. “We think this is just the beginning of where NFT's will go and so we're really excited to be in first,” Schneider says, adding “We'll learn a lot over the next week, and just hearing from our fans and how they feel about this and what they want.”
The collection can be viewed in full at GSWNFT.com. The auction is currently live, with the main collection auction ending Saturday, May, 1 at 8 p.m. PDT and the one-of-one auctions ending on Sunday, May 2 at 8 p.m. PDT.