There aren’t many ownership groups around pro sports in North America that understand NFTs more intricately than Wizards' team owner Ted Leonsis. Now they’re looking at what is next in the brand new, and unknown, world of NFTs.
First, a quick explainer here: NFT stands for non-fungible token — meaning a token that cannot be exchanged and is unique. They are a digital representation of a unique collectible that is stored on a decentralized network much like Bitcoin. Each NFT owner controls that collectible and can buy, sell or trade it just as you would any physical trading card.
Leonsis thinks it could change the future of ticketing and more in the NBA.
“All of the sudden, what the block chain NFTs has done is take one-time events, I bought trading cards one time, and turns it into lifetime revenue generation that everyone shares in on an ongoing basis,” he told NBC LX in a recent piece about NFTs. “It’s inherently a lot more fair.”
Now, as sports trading moves virtual, both virtual trading cards and tickets can be involved in the world of NFTs.
“Rui [Hachimura], our second-year player, a true sensation in Japan, I could see next year [the Wizards] doing an NFT for his fans in Japan that’s in Japanese, and we do a limited number and people bid on it and they’re buying it from Japan,” Leonsis said. “We’re giving it to our season ticket holders and it’s an alive ticket. It makes the ticket to that game dynamic. Some people might buy it and split it, and say, ‘Here’s the way to get in to watch the game,’ some people may want to buy the ticket just to get the NFT on that moment.”
The Golden State Warriors were the first pro sports team to launch an NFT collection and raised $2 million on selling championship ring NFTs.
“I thought what Golden State did was very instructive,” Leonsis said. “Take championship rings, make NFTs and give it a limited amount that you could own a replica championship ring on the blockchain. You would buy it and then you could trade it and sell it.”
Still, as a growing technology, 70 percent of Americans don’t yet know what NFTs are. That’s a problem the Wizards are determined to help figure out as the industry becomes more mainstream.
“Any time you want to unveil a brand new technology, you do need to create an interface and an onboarding mechanism that makes it much more easy for new customers to truly understand what’s happening,” said Zach Leonsis, senior vice president of strategic initiatives for Monumental Sports & Entertainment.