How Far NBA Went Into Crypto and NFT Adoption

The market for non-fungible tokens has experienced a massive rise in popularity thanks to sports sponsorship. On the other hand, the sports world has also had a strong year and realized an increase in crypto adoption.

The virtual space and digital assets have presented a great avenue for sports fans to engage. While this rising interest is across different sports, with different leagues investing in cryptocurrency, it is more prominent in the NBA.

The NBA has been especially progressive in the market of digital assets; it has opened up the NFT market to a more mainstream audience. Thanks to the NBA, thousands of sports fans now buy BNB and trade cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

For instance, the NBA Top Shot, launched in October 2020, realized over $40,000,000 in sales in January. This article evaluates how deep the NBA has gone into cryptocurrency and NFT adoption, among other things.

The NBA in the Crypto Space

The National Basketball Association has a huge presence in cryptocurrency as it prepares for the future. In 2021, it signed the first cryptocurrency sponsorship deal with Coinbase, where the latter leverages nearly all NBA’s platforms.

Coinbase is a publicly traded company and cryptocurrency exchange platform, allowing cryptocurrency transactions and earning from fees. This deal came a day after Adam Silver, NBA commissioner, confirmed the $10 billion revenue the league is projecting for the 21/22 season.

Meanwhile, the league expects this estimated figure to increase thanks to the deal with Coinbase. The essence of the collaboration is to increase the awareness of blockchain technology; Coinbase aims to grow the cryptocurrency market.

Thus, the league will provide exposure, and Coinbase will also acquire presenting partner rights for the USA basketball exhibition tours and WNBA Cup. Kerry Tatlock, NBA executive, stated that Coinbase is a natural fit for the league’s digital asset.

Additionally, the NBA has leveraged other crypto-related deals like Miami Heat arena naming rights and the Portland Trail Blazers jersey patch. Different NBA teams, Major League Baseball, Formula 1, and the Drone Racing League in New York, have landed crypto sponsorships.

How Has the Cryptocurrency Sponsorship Helped the NBA?

The NBA’s adoption of cryptocurrencies and NFTs has led it to over $1 billion in sports sponsorship money and deals. According to CNBC reports, the league generated $1.6 billion in crypto sponsorships, including team sponsorships and stadium naming rights.

Peter Laatz, global managing director of IEG, commented that this crypto sponsorship is unlike anything the league has seen before. Thanks to the NBA’s investment in crypto adoption, the cryptocurrency that was alien to most Americans has become the league’s second-most lucrative sponsorship category.

The NBA comes third in sponsorship revenue among the four major U.S. sports, superseded by the NFL and Major League Baseball. Apart from the naming rights and sports sponsorship deals, the NBA has realized $200 million through jersey patch deals this season.

These deals were only used in the WNBA and minor sports leagues in the past, but they’ve exploded in recent years. Thanks to these deals, teams, and leagues have been able to recoup funds lost during the COVID-19 lockdown.

NFT Projects Launched by the NBA

In April this year, the NBA launched "The Association," its new Ethereum-based NFT collection. The collection consists of 18,000 NFTs – 75 NFTs per player for all 2022 NBA playoffs teams.

"The Association" is a collection of unique non-fungible tokens that change appearance based on player and team on-court performance. The NBA issued the NFT collection in a blind-mint, meaning it is impossible to know which player the league will receive before it is revealed.

Through The Association, the league will assign players transparently and randomly through Chainlink VRF to ensure everyone gets a fair chance of minting players. Before "The Association," the NBA and Dapper Labs launched Top Shot in 2020; Top Shot is the NBA’s NFT marketplace.

Top Shot was built on the Flow blockchain; the NBA expanded its Web3 allegiance in the NBA playoffs to drive fan engagement. This NFT project was the biggest in the January market, amassing more value than the entire Ethereum-based NFT market combined.

Additionally, the National Basketball Association launched NBAxNFT to engage with the league’s fans on everything related to Web3. The launch of the NBAxNFT coincided with the GSW’s launch of its playoff NFT collection. The collection, launched on the FTX NFT space, is a limited collection of 2,000 non-fungible tokens.

The tokens are minted through FTX on the Solana blockchain and randomly assigned. Each token has its benefits, utility, and a unique level of rarity.


The popularity of cryptocurrencies and NFTs span different sports categories, but the NBA is arguably one of the most involved. The league has launched several crypto projects, including Top Shot and The Association. It has collaborated with exchange platforms in crypto deals, which has helped it to bounce back from the COVID-19 losses. While the buzz around NBA’s NFT projects has reduced a little, there’s every indication that the story is far from over.

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