Cryptocurrency advocates have spent years looking for various ways in to major consumer markets. There have been successes and failures over the years on this front, but recently it’s begun to seem as if the crypto world may have a somewhat surprising ally: the National Basketball Association.
Various executives, teams, and even individual players around the NBA have taken a few steps toward embracing cryptocurrency in recent years, with specifics ranging from teams accepting bitcoin payments to fans being rewarded with in-house crypto tokens. Here, we want to provide a bit more insight into some of the tech-forward practices that have turned the NBA into something of a crypto partner.
Accepting Bitcoin Payments
The Sacramento Kings started accepting bitcoin for in-arena payments in 2014, and were the first NBA team to do so. The team later expanded to accepting the cryptocurrency on its website for ticket purchases and merchandise sales – a decision that has been a good one for the team. Entrepreneurial team owner Vivek Ranadive believes in blockchain technology, and has clearly made the decision to invest and adjust accordingly.
The Dallas Mavericks followed suit just recently, nearly four years after that first big step, allowing their own crypto-enthusiast fans to maker purchases the way they want to. While we don’t have data on this point specifically, the Mavericks may benefit in particular from allowing crypto transactions because they have a fairly strong international fan base (meaning some fans may be looking for an alternative to U.S. current already).
Following up on their innovative decision to accept bitcoin purchases, the Kings actually began mining their own cryptocurrency as well, initially to donate to a charity of their own creation, MiningForGood. This year they’re taking the practice a step further though, and using some of their mined cryptocurrency to reward loyal fans. Set to launch at the Kings’ first home game this season, the reward program (on a proprietary app) will give bonuses to fans for various degrees of participation. The app will supply fans with QR codes redeemable only for items worth ERC-20 tokens (meaning the fans can’t use the codes to redeem currency). Basically, they’ll be able to use the tokens as store credit, to purchase team-related items.
Interestingly, the Kings also have plans to extend this program to allow fans to use crypto tokens in a sort of organization-based betting system. We don’t know exactly how this might work yet, and it’s important to note that at this point it might not be legal. However, with updated U.S. gambling practices spreading state by state, the thinking appears to be that California (where the Kings are based) will allow betting before too long. At that time, the Kings may well announce their very own innovative, crypto-based betting system.
Pro Players Accepting Crypto Payments
Perhaps the strangest link between the NBA and cryptocurrency is the most recent. Brooklyn Nets player Spencer Dinwiddie has sought to “tokenize” his contract in an attempt to get fans to invest in it. He announced last year he had something tech-forward up his sleeve, but only recently went public with the details of his idea. Dinwiddie has been a longtime believer in cryptocurrency, even categorizing himself as more of a tech guy who happens to play basketball. And though the NBA is fighting the idea, Dinwiddie is insisting his idea doesn’t violate the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. It’s unclear how this will play out, but Dinwiddie is actually one of a few professional athletes looking to involve cryptocurrency in contracts in one way or another. Multiple NFL players have requested to be paid in bitcoin instead of cash.
Altogether, there is no uniform approach here. But all of a sudden, NBA organizations and players are looking like vocal, visible allies for crypto advancement.