The craze of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, has consumed the sports world over the last few weeks.
Stephen Curry bought a piece of blockchain art called a Bored Ape for $180,000. Odell Beckham Jr. purchased his digital likeness in the form of a CryptoPunk for more than $2 million.
On Monday, some NFT community sleuthers found an OpenSea account that appears to belong to none other than the great Shaquille O’Neal.
In particular, PFP (profile picture) NFT projects have seen an astronomical rise in popularity and sales volume of late. These projects typically offer 10,000 NFTs for minting, and no two pieces of the collection are the same as they are made unique by different properties, which have varying levels of rarity. CryptoPunks, Bored Aped Yacht Club, and Cool Cats are some of the most popular PFP projects.
But recently, sports and basketball fans around the globe have been going crazy, hyping a collection that honors the legacy of Kobe Bryant.
The KB24 NFT project was publicly announced on September 7 on Bryant’s previous personal website, KB24.com. The initiative was met with doubt and skepticism as to the team behind KB24 NFT immediately declared that all proceeds from the initial drop, as well as every secondary marketplace sale, would be donated to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which is a non-profit organization established by the Bryant family with the goal of “creating positive impact for underserved athletes and young women in sports.”
In an NFT market where millionaires are being made every day behind billions in trade volume, why would anyone put in an extraordinary amount of resources to forego the profit that comes with it?
“We want to change the NFT space,” Andy Treys, one of the project’s co-founders, told Forbes. “There’s so much room for the NFT community to give back to charities and make this world a better place. We’re not doing this for fame or fortune, we’re doing this because we want to forever extend Kobe’s legacy to the digital realm.”
LAST THURSDAY, the KB24 NFT Team announced that the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation has given the project its “blessing.” The donation details are currently being finalized, and a formal announcement from both parties is expected soon.
The foundation partnership quieted many of the skeptics, and over the past week, the project’s Discord server has grown to more than 20,000 users. The community of Kobe Bryant fans is active and passionate, with one member even gifting front row Lakers tickets for a giveaway prize.
Current and former NBA players have also taken notice. Dwight Howard, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, Danny Green, Nerlens Noel, and Metta World Peace have all voiced public support for the KB24 NFT project.
“I’m honestly amazed at how fast the KB24 community has grown and how engaged they are with each other. I haven’t fully emersed myself in the NFT world just yet, but this is a movement that carries more significance than just another piece of art.” – Kenny “The Jet” Smith.
In a podcast interview, Treys and co-founder Sako Waves said that the KB24 NFT general public sale would take place on Friday, October 8. The price to mint a token is .0824 ETH (equivalent to about $235 as of this writing), paying further homage to Bryant’s two jersey numbers.
Of course, there is already widespread speculation about what these KB24 NFTs could be worth in the future. So much more than one online sportsbook, BetOnline.ag, offers prop bets and odds on projected values and participation.
The oddsmakers set the over/under for the OpenSea floor price on Friday at midnight at 2 ETH (~ $6,000). The over/under for the highest sale of a Kobe NFT by the end of the weekend…a whopping 15 ETH (~ $45,000).
And here’s perhaps the most interesting prop from BetOnline:
Who will be the first person to change Twitter profile picture to a KB24 NFT?
Devin Booker +200
Shaquille O’Neal +300
LeBron James +400
Stephen Curry +500
Dwyane Wade +600
Carmelo Anthony +800
Chris Paul +1000
Magic Johnson +1200
Michael Jordan +1500
Tiger Woods +3000
(The KB24 NFT team stated that it is not associated with BetOnline in any way.)
It’s anyone’s guess as to what kind of value these Kobe Bryant-inspired pieces of digital art will hold. But one thing is sure, at the end of the day, the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation that was “founded through the vision and loving memory of Kobe and Gianna ”Gigi” Bryant” will be the real winner.