Abe Beame has a mint condition Shawn Bradley rookie card available for sale. Inquire within for details.
Folks, things are moving fast in the volatile, high stakes world of Non Fungible Tokens. Millions are being made and lost every hour in the digital marketplace, while you stand on the sideline Tweeting about the Kristaps Prozingis trade, or whatever you dumb poors do with the time you spend not making money. We here at POW are committed to not only delivering top notch music and sports takes, but financial advice that can help secure comfort and security for you and yours. And that is where this column, and Top Shot comes in.
But Abe, what IS Top Shot?
Thanks for asking! New things can be frightening and confusing, don’t be afraid to ask questions on your path to informed investing! If you will, imagine all the currently annoying things in the world (crypto, NBA Twitter, the resurgent sports card market, r/wallstreetbets, the SNKRS app, complex financial instruments, tech guys, grift, the commoditization and secondary marketing of literally every article of American life, etc.) had an orgy which somehow produced a Rosemary’s Baby like demon seed, that’s Top Shot!
It’s DMT brain drip courtesy of Dapper Labs, a Vancouver based blockchain company that used to develop efficiency maximizing gas chambers before pivoting to whatever this is. Dapper Labs produces specially packaged NBA highlights, or to translate to Asshole: “Moments.” These moments are tied to a blockchain, or digital ledger that lends them certificates of authenticity that can’t be hacked or replicated. The moments are sold in randomly assorted packs, like trading cards. They’ve been given designations based on scarcity:
$ Common– Which can have over 1,000 duplicates on the market, the Common Packs start at $9 for 9 moments and are perfect for you poor idiots.
$ Rare- Between 150-999 digital copies. These cost $22 and come in packs containing six common moments with one rare moment. If I had terminal cancer and the only cure was having to tell just one person I bought a Rare pack, I wouldn’t do it, but maybe it holds some interest for you.
$ Legendary- 25-99 digital copies. We’re beginning to get in range. Legendary packs start at $230 and typically contain six common moments, three rare moments, and one legendary moment, all for the cost of dinner for two at Gramercy Tavern.
$ Platinum Ultimate- 3 digital copies. These are only available through auction. Think of Sotheby’s, Christie’s, the storied old houses where the plutocracy would gather in ties and tails to vie for the privilege of securing great works of art, or jewelry owned by royalty, priceless masterpieces that would be the pride of their families for generations. Now imagine you shirtless in Phoenix Suns shorts on a Thursday morning, immediately after jerking off, eating Ritz crackers shmeared with creamy Laughing Cow, typing furiously as you attempt to spend six figures on a John Wall reverse layup.
$ Genesis Ultimate- 1 copy! Only available through auction. Also, coincidentally I assume, the name of the next Busta Rhymes album.
Abe, are you fucking with me? This is a real thing people are spending money on?
It sure is! And boy are they! Since the debut of Top Shot last month, the market has exploded, entirely organically, I’m sure! The basic ability to buy a Top Shot pack is harder than it was to get a Covid vaccine several weeks ago. As of last week, over 88,000 people have bought a Top Shot product, spending over 278 million dollars! Pre-orders are sold out and some people do little besides stare at their gmail accounts all day refreshing with nothing in their inbox waiting for an update announcing a new pre-sale pack drop! Seriously! And the secondary market for some of these moments are already legendary, or should I say, Genesis Ultimate!
So getting a pack of Top Shot is probably out for the casual consumer at the moment, but it’s not all bad news. You can’t stumble across any gems out of a random pack at the, but Top Shot has set up a Marketplace for the convenience of the buyer. It’s a magical place where moment holders list their commodities for the investor to bid on. It’s a place where “Gordon Hayward Jump Shot (Base Set 2)” can run you anywhere from $72-$250,000, based on what you’re willing to spend. It’s a place where Top Shot takes a 5% commission for every sale.
So in other words, it’s a place dictated by the free will of the market. And wherever people are allowed to create arbitrary value, there is value to be had. In The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg, as Mark Zuckerberg says, “If you can predict the weather, you can predict the price of oil.” A Top Shot highlight, like a basketball card, is a representation of the value of its player. So if you can speculate where a certain, perhaps undervalued player’s career is headed, in terms of their relative value to the market as currently constructed, you (yes, YOU!) can find all sorts of bargains to be had as you flip your way to a gaudy portfolio. There’s a fortune to be made as a savvy buyer and seller. And that’s where this column comes in.
But Abe, you’re just some schmuck on the internet who writes bizarre sprawling impressionistic portraits of players around the NBA that involve very little actual insight or analysis, and you got a BA in English from a state school, what in the world qualifies you to speculate on this growing, exciting new crypto market?
Relax dickhead! I happen to have a joint E*TRADE account with my wife that is pretty diversely spread around several moderately priced green, tech, marijuana and pharma companies all on the verge of another phase of a new drug or a big government contract or a merger that may or may not happen or came highly recommended from some guy in my stock groupchat and it was actually doing pretty well until a few weeks ago, and I’ve watched most of the Knicks games this season, so your question is dumb and potentially even at least a little anti Semitic.
Moving on, focusing almost solely on players I’ve written about before, so you can handily go back and check out my takes on them, I present my first annual Top Shot Futures Evaluation of must buys and stay aways for every tier of buyer and seller. Let’s get this money!
Always buy the dips. At the moment, the Boston Celtics are underperforming in the East, so it’s easy to lose sight of the true value of Jaylen Brown. Sure, he’s an all star this season, but have you seen a Subway commercial lately? He’s perpetually in the shadow of his younger teammate, Jayson Tatum, because Tatum was better than Brown his rookie year (but never since). If the Celtics, with little cap flexibility or viable assets, continue to languish, a dissolution of this battery is likely, and Brown could be the ultimate crown jewel in a blockbuster trade. Anyone who watches him knows in the right situation, his value both as a player and a Top Shot commodity, could skyrocket,
In addition, this specific highlight has a lot going for it. Dunks are the 45 day aged bone in ribeye of the Top Shot market. While this highlight is sold as Jaylen picking a lazy Jae Crowder passing lane, it ends with a Brown cram, something any informed investor can market and sell. It’s a flaw in the system, already special as a defensive play made by a rising star, but then topped with a flush? In the time since I started writing about this moment (not long), it’s floor moved from $67 to $465. Strong buy.
Instructive to look around at a player’s portfolio when evaluating a buy. I love a juicy chart. Shai Gilgeous Alexander, my favorite professional basketball player, currently has a total of five Top Shots available in the marketplace. Their lowest asking prices are: $1,020, $560, $2,450, and $5,300. This moment is currently available at $58. It has been replicated more than all the SGA Top Shots put together, but is still relatively scarce and should only increase in value in the event he is traded (freezing the replication of his moment), or rises to inevitable greatness (which is definitely happening). A strong buy for any long hold conservative investors looking to dip a toe in the market.
When I was a kid, there was a prestige basketball card brand called Topps Finest, an offshoot of the mass produced brand that cost a lot more but offered unique and wacky heft and sheen and photoshopped-meme-level design. Every once in a while, I’d splurge on a pack, and inevitably end up with multiples of this specific gem, over and over again.
My point is don’t be seduced by a potentially overhyped player and his putback dunk on Buddy Hield because Top Shot has lent it prestige designation. Its lowest ask at the time of writing this is $3,899. I’m not saying MPJ won’t find his way eventually, but on the bubble talent is a finicky mistress in the NBA. You can get that Eric Montross Topps Finest right now for $23.53.
So far my recommendations have been exclusively low risk/high reward buys or puts, but here is one that straddles both. One of the unique components of Top Shot that separates it from a garden variety basketball card is it commemorates not just players, or seasons, but, as they say, moments. Jimmy Butler’s 40 point triple double in last year’s Finals presents a tantalizing opportunity to capitalize on a heroic moment that may be forgotten. If you believe in the market, and its potential, it isn’t hard to conceive of a niche market for sadomasochists such as myself who love and value heroic performances in the face of defeat like Jimmy’s against the Lakers in the Finals last year. With the skyrocketing prices of certain highlights we’ll address shortly, a rare Jimmy Butler moment in his signature game for the price of a shitty sedan off the lot ($13,795) could very well end up being a steal. Proceed cautiously, but if you have the finances and the stomach for risk, buy?
As a sophisticated Top Shot investor, you have to be dynamic. I spent a good deal of time shitting on the Limited Edition Metallic Gold Top Shot rollout earlier, so allow me to heap some praise. In a case like Pat Bev’s, a rare card might be exactly what the doctor ordered to generate value. It can currently be had for $950. Pat has one other moment on the market, another and more readily available version of this. This moment doesn’t address what makes Pat Bev so great, but perhaps because we have so few Pat Bev commodities to trade on right now, this high end buy for a lower end player could end up yielding serious dividends, depending on how Top Shot decides to feature him going forward.
The Run It Back series offers the casual fan an incredible opportunity to invest in history. Who knows how far Top Shot will or can go back, but a large portion of the memorabilia market is founded on nostalgia, and Run It Back gives Top Shot the option to look further afield than 2020. It doesn’t take much of a leap to conceive of a Giannis rookie Top Shot, or a Vince Carter Platinum Ultra Dunk Contest Top Shot, or a Kevin McHale Finals Top Shot.
So this is why I’d approach any Durant moment outside his dynasty run on Golden State, or his rookie year, with healthy skepticism. With all due respect to this random March night in 2014 against the Raptors, there are more precious Durant gems to unearth, we may just be getting started, and with this moment’s $43,500 price tag, you get the impression the bubble is due to pop at some point. A firm stay away.
This one hits for a lot of reasons. For one, it’s one of my favorite players blocking one of the only players featured previously in this column that I couldn’t find an easy way to shoehorn into this piece, Allonzo Trier. What’s interesting about the potential for specific moments in Top Shot are features like this one. You have a player more known for his speed and offense making a play on defense, which could add to its value. It’s available right now for 28k, a very fair and reasonable price. It might be worth a splurge.
*BONUS* The Devin Booker Ejection
In 1989, second baseman Bill Ripken played a joke on The Baltimore Orioles, Major League Baseball, Fleer, and the entire memorabilia industry when he wrote the words “Fuck Face” on the bottom of his bat handle, displayed prominently on his 89 card. The card was mass produced and not worth much today, but proves that part of the fun of trading cards, and something that can inflate value, are errors and mistakes and flaws that breed scarcity.
Something Top Shot could and should do is lean into that fun with its moments. A series dedicated to bloopers, weird game day fits, mistakes in interviews, etc. Perhaps I could suggest this one, Devin Booker apparently saying something so outrageous to LeBron during the Suns Lakers game last week he was immediately thrown out of the game. If you could get a good angle on Booker, break out a clip of him that captures whatever he said, then tie it to a moment with a blockchain encryption, I bet it would sell for thousands. Keep your eyes peeled buyers.
There are currently no Platinum Ultimate or Genesis Ultimate moments available on the market. But the second most “valuable” Top Shot currently at the marketplace is this Legendary LeBron Dunk from Top Shot’s From the Top Series. What we’ve been seeing recently in the stock market is value being completely untethered from performance of the business a stock theoretically represents. For instance, in Apple’s 2021 Q1, the company turned in a record earnings report of 111.4 billion, an increase of 21%, and incredibly, the stock fell. So sometimes, value is already baked into the inflated price of-
Wait. That’s fucking crazy. So Apple made 111 billion dollars, they broke a record, increased their sales by 21%, and the projected value of their company actually went DOWN? That doesn’t make any fucking sense. What the fuck are we even doing? Trading Youtube clips on the internet for hundreds and thousands of dollars? Did you know 90% of all restaurants and bars in New York City couldn’t pay rent in December? Do you know how many people that industry employs here? And the even though Democrats hold the Executive and Legislative branch, we can’t even pass a fucking coherent stimulus bill. Like what is money? What is anything actually worth now? And who decides that? The United States is currently 28 trillion dollars in debt. How can the dollar be worth anything internationally? And when it collapses, what’s going to happen? Are we going to be taking our Steph Curry 3 pointer moments to Key Foods to buy fucking bread? This shadowy company is producing these moments and selling them as they deem fit. They literally own and control the market. You think that SNKRS controversy was bad? What happens when you have a blockchain you control for a currency you are making up? What’s to stop these guys from all minting their friends/fences a Platinum Ultimate of LeBron’s chasedown block in the Finals and making however many more millions of dollars on top of the ungodly sums they are already making off of this? And did you know you can’t even take any of the theoretical money you’re making on Top Shots out? Or at the moment it’s incredibly difficult, and has all the earmarks of a fucking ponzi scheme, and a giant bubble that’s about to pop rendering this entire market what it’s actually worth, which is FUCKING NOTHING. And have you read about what these stupid fucking things are doing to the environment? Someone named Memo Atken says the footprint for the creation of a single edition non fungible token is the equivalent of driving a car 630 miles. There’s fucking thousands of these things! When our children are drowning in a sea of boiling blood, will flipping the rights to a James Harden steal for $200 in an imaginary fucking marketplace using fake currency really be worth it? And is this any more real or fake than what’s happening in the “real” marketplace right now? Like who is actually in control–
[Ed. Note: This is what Abe sent us. It’s unclear whether he gave up on finishing the piece in disgust, or blew his brains out and his head happened to land on his laptop in a way that inadvertently submitted this. We guess we’ll all find out which happened when the column returns, or doesn’t, in two weeks.]