How Did A LeBron James Video Highlight Sell For $71,455? A Look At A Burgeoning Product Called NBA Top Shot.


In yet another sign of the upward ascendancy of both the sports card and digital collectibles markets, three limited-edition NBA highlight video cards have sold for more than $30,000 over the past 10 days on NBA Top Shot, a blockchain-based platform that allows fans to buy, sell and trade numbered versions of specific video highlights.

Key Facts

NBA Top Shot is a joint venture, started in July 2019, between the National Basketball Association, the NBA Players Association and Dapper Labs, which is best known as the creator of CryptoKitties, long considered the world’s most popular blockchain-based game.

According to Dapper Labs Chief Executive Officer Roham Gharegozlou, NBA Top Shots, which are the video versions of highlight moments, are sold in limited edition packs (for between $9 and $230, depending on the quality of the highlight and the player) and only sold for a limited time.

Once purchased, those highlights go into a buyer’s encrypted, secure highlight wallet.

Each individual NBA Top Shot video card has value due to its authenticity and scarcity being secured by a blockchain called Flow.

Since its launch, the company has reportedly registered nearly $20 million in sales ($6 million from packs and $14 million on its secondary marketplace) with upwards of $1.5 million in trading volume in January alone. 

Key Background:

The skyrocketing value of NBA Top Shots recently has been remarkable. On January 15, a Ja Morant highlight (No. 1 out of 49) was purchased off the platform’s secondary marketplace for a then-record $35,000. According to The Action Network, the Morant highlight’s original owner got it out of a pack and sold it in November for just under $2,000. That new owner then sold it last week for $35k, making an exceptional return on investment in less than 50 days. Four days after the Morant sale, a group of investors bought a LeBron James dunk highlight (No. 23 out of 59) for $47,500, capping off a 24-hour stretch in which the site saw more than $1 million in sales. Then, on Friday, a collector purchased a No. 1 LeBron James moment from Top Shots’ From The Top Series 1 set for a whopping $71,455, shattering the record. According to a recent Bloomberg report, the sports card and memorabilia boom has “come on the coattails” of surging cryptocurrency markets that “are near all-time highs with investors looking for hard assets to hedge against future inflation.” However, unlike forms of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, which are readily exchangeable, each NBA Top Shot moment is a non-fungible token (NFTs), which means it can only have one owner and cannot be copied. NFTs are used “to create verifiable digital scarcity” and digital ownership. “The trading card business is worth $5-$6 billion annually,” said Gharegozlou, adding, “I don’t see why we can’t get to a place where this business is grossing $1 billion alone.” 


Last week, a new all-time record was established when an extremely rare, PSA-9 graded, 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle rookie card sold for $5.2 million. The previous record for the highest-selling sports card of all time was set last August when a signed rookie by Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout sold for $3.93 million at auction. 

Crucial Quote: 

“There are guys buying trading cards and they’re never taking the custody of the cards before putting them into vaults,” Gharegozlou told the Action Network. “There are people buying shares of cards on sites like Starstock, without ever seeing the card. This is the same concept. We have a lot of believers in what we offer, and we have people who don’t get it. That’s OK. We can’t please everybody.”

What To Watch For:

The Action Network reported earlier this week that three sellers were offering their version of the Ja Morant dunk (from a more rare series, limited to just 25) on the secondary market for $100,000. 

Further Reading:

Mickey Mantle Rookie Card Sells For $5.2 Million, Setting Record For Largest Card Transaction (Forbes) 

What Is NBA Top Shot? Blockchain NBA Highlight Market Explodes With 5-Figure Sales (Action Network)


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