The most common way of explaining NFTs is to think of them as something like virtual trading cards, verified on the blockchain. Although an NFT can represent many things, like a trading card, an NFT is a collectible item that’s main attracting claim is the ownership of a unique asset, regardless of whether it has inherent value or not.
With that in mind, it makes complete sense that one of the most popular NFTs has come in the form of NBA Top Shot, which are almost literally crypto trading cards in the form of NFTs. But unlike a real trading card, a Top Shot is representative of a moment or highlight, and not just a specific NBA player. For instance, you wouldn’t get a Top Shot of New York Knicks player RJ Barrett, but rather a Top Shot of RJ Barrett dunking on a breakaway on February 12. Each purchased Top Shot comes with a serial number certifying the ownership of that moment in basketball time.
Top Shots have been available since October 2020. The most expensive Top Shot sold to date went for $208,000, and is a highlight of LeBron James committing a posterizing dunk over former Sacramento Kings player, Nemanja Bjelica.
Just like with real world cards, you can buy a common Top Shot, which are minted in the tens of thousands, or a rare Top Shot, which are minted as low as editions of one. You can buy packs of cards, or group certain cards together, like the All-Star game set or the Rising Stars set. As intended, an active marketplace has sprung up around Top Shot, and has garnered over $230 million in sales.
It might seem ridiculous to pay money to own a version of a highlight that you can watch on YoutTube for free. But NBA top shots are basically just a digital version of the pieces of paper that people trade in the real world as trading cards. Something is only worth what somebody is willing to pay for it.