NBA on the Blockchain

Source: Dapper Labs

NBA Top Shot is a blockchain-based digital trading card marketplace where users can buy packs and ‘showcase’ their cards or opt to sell them to other users on a virtual marketplace.

Launched in July 2019, the NBA (National Basketball Association) partnered with blockchain company Dapper Labs to create NBA Top Shot. A futuristic outlook on the trading of sport cards, powered by blockchain technology, virtual cards containing specific NBA highlights are minted.

How it works

The NBA decides on the highlight to be used (a short video highlighting the play of a specific player) and then Dapper Labs number how many of each highlight are going to be sold, thus creating a limited amount to be produced. Highlights are placed into digital packs and sold on the NBA Top Shot website. Prices currently ranging from $2 to $100 000.

The price of a digital pack depend on the following attributes:

  • Quality of the highlight
  • Quality level of the player
  • Rarity of the card
NBA Top Shots

Rarity of cards

Cards are placed into either of the following categories:

Common Tier

The most readily available cards. They have open edition sizes (edition size of 1000+), meaning moments will continue to be minted until the moment is retired. A circulating count (cc) will be displayed indicating how many of a specific editions cards have been minted at a current point in time.

Rare Tier

These cards are more valuable than the common tier and come in limited edition runs (150–999). A limited edition (LE) moment indicates that no more cards will ever be minted, thus making the moment a lot more rare and therefore more valuable. In addition, the rare tier also includes updated artworks over common tier highlights.

Legendary Tier

These cards are minted in 25–99 limits per edition.

Ultimate Tier (Platinum Ice)

These cards are only minted in batches of 3 per edition and are only available through auction.

Ultimate Tier (Genesis)

The most sought after and rarest tier. Only 1 card is available per edition making it truly unique. Again, these cards are only available through auction.

How the serial numbers work

When each digital card is minted, it is given a unique serial number. A legendary Lebron James edition, for example, will only have 49 cards in the edition. The lower serial numbers (i.e. 1, 2, 3 …) are seen as more valuable than their higher serial number counterparts (i.e. 47,48,49 …). However, serial numbers in the edition that match the players jersey number (in this case, 23 for Lebron James) also holds high value.

Lebron James NBA Top Shots

It is still to be seen whether digital trading cards will have a place in the future and if they will replace traditional physical card trading. For now however, it is a hot topic and companies like NBA x Dapper and Panini are looking to capitalize on the adoption of blockchain technology.

What are your thoughts?

For more information on NBA Top Shots, visit




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