Dallas Mavericks Lead The NBA In NFT Usage But Fans Upset With Cuban After Voyager Crypto Bankruptcy

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The Dallas Mavericks were early adopters in accepting cryptocurrency for ticket purchases and giving NFTs to their fans that attended games. Now after Mavs crypto partner Voyager Digital filed for bankruptcy, some fans are not happy with Mark Cuban.

Although many NFTs have crashed in 2022, a number of sports leagues are going ahead with their plans to expand the usage of the tokens. The NBA is no exception to that, with some of the finest players around investing substantially in them and other blockchain-based digital assets.

The Mavericks were Early Crypto Adopters

Before non-fungible tokens (NFTs) became the hot new thing, there was the cryptocurrency boom. The Mavericks were already ahead of the trend. While players like current Mavericks (then Nets) star Spencer Dinwiddie were just starting to move more seriously into the space in 2019 — Dinwiddie accepted Bitcoin payments and even moved his contract to the blockchain — the Mavericks added cryptocurrencies to the list of options for ticket purchases. Bitcoin may have already been a decade old at that point, but it hadn’t made a lot of headway in sports, so it took people like Mark Cuban to get the ball rolling.

Partnership with Voyager Digital

In October, Cuban announced a five-year partnership with brokerage Voyager Digital, citing his belief that more education on the underlying tech needs to spread. The brokerage was promoted to the Mavs fan base. While not strictly necessary in NFT trading, crypto is an important sister technology that popularized the concept of the modern digital asset.

Mavs move into Commemorative NFTs

Rather than resting on its laurels, the Mavs moved seamlessly into NFTs about as soon as it became apparent that they were sticking around as a concept. In typical Cuban fashion, rather than experimenting, he went in big.

Regular in-person game attendees will be more than aware of the offer of commemorative NFTs created on the Polygon network in partnership with Ticketmaster and NFT.kred. 20,000 are minted every game to give to fans who are able to make it down to the American Airlines Center.
Although the primary stated intention is for them to be keepsakes that really prove fans were there when some epic basketball went down, rather than high-value assets like the famous Bored Apes, that hasn’t stopped the team from creating its own trading platform on which to find them going for anywhere between a handful of dollars to thousands.
NFTs Encourage Game Attendance
In the process, the NFTs presumably also encourage in-person attendance after the pandemic restrictions. In addition to those minted for individual games, there are now tokens made for cute pixelated versions of famous players and even a series of custom designs based on fan-favorite Mavrello Ballovic. Special ones were also distributed when Dallas legend Dirk Nowitzki hung up his jersey. Cuban has pointed out that given the popularity of profile picture NFTs, purchasing them allows fans to celebrate their fandom in an online space.

Voyager Files for Bankruptcy, Fans Mad at Cuban

Last week, less than nine months after the five-year agreement with the Mavericks was signed, Voyager filed for bankruptcy. Now, Mavs fans who received a reward when opening a Voyager account do not know if they will recover any of their money and have voiced their displeasure with Cuban on social media.

What’s Ahead?

Clearly, it hasn’t escaped Cuban’s notice that tickets to some games are themselves pretty valuable. This is why he’s discussed the idea of making tickets themselves available as NFTs. Ticket costs may be recouped through resale, Cuban points out.

At least two dozen NBA teams including the New York Knicks have partnered with Socios fan tokens over the last year. Socios is a platform with fungible currency-like tokens each associated with a sports team or league. Fan tokens are used on the official app to get access to things like special edition merch, and NFTs or take part in various team-related decisions and activities.  The New Orleans Pelicans are the most recent team to partner with the fan engagement and rewards app.
There has been some speculation as to whether the remaining NBA teams will sign up with Socios. For now, though, the only ‘fan tokens’ the Mavs are making available are the NFTs. Also, with the Voyager bankruptcy filing and the heat Cuban is taking over it, the team may pause and reflect on their crypto and NFT plans going forward.

Image: Pixabay

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